Are We There Yet?

If you are a parent and ever took a road trip with your children, I’ll bet that you’ve heard this phrase more times than you care to remember. Impatience is the constancy of childhood. Children can’t wait until they’re old enough for…..well, just about everything that they see adults doing. For a child, sitting in a car for more than ten minutes not “doing” something is boring. Back then we didn’t have super SUVs with video screens or iPads, we had Game Boy. Our kids ripped through that in about twenty minutes.

It takes maturity to learn patience; adolescents seldom do; most college students lack that; and young adults often fail and make poor judgements, not thinking things through before they act.  This is not a knock on any generation, it’s just one of life’s lessons we need to learn on the way to maturity. The problem for American society is that we have stunted the intellectual and psychological growth of our younger generations for quite some time now.  I say “we” because as a society we have lost historical perspective that informs us of the empirical reality of consequences resulting from poor judgement. This has been going on for quite some time, so it’s not just a current phenomenon.

It is an accepted historical axiom that every civilization and society has within itself the seeds of its own destruction. If that’s true, then the corollary should be that as humanity progresses it should be able to root out those seeds to provide a more stable and lasting society. It’s also an empirical reality of history that the more that societies create compulsory structures, i.e. other than those that evolve naturally through the civil evolution of the population, create distortions that lead to some kind of conflict, whether that is environmental, economic, political, etc. that provides for decline and eventual collapse.

It was Alexis de Tocqueville who observed that when voluntary and private associations are allowed to flourish, they become a natural and integral part of society that can not only compliment political institutions, such as governments, but even provide functions without the need for governmental participation at all. Further, they become in effect the means for resolving dissent through civil discourse, provide for an equitably meritorious allocation of resources and a natural evolutionary social experimentation without the need for governmental coercion. This in turn creates societal cohesion and confidence even during periods of governmental chaos.

This idea was not a new revelation to the Founders of our Republic as they were well aware of the evils that were plaguing European nations and sought to construct a political system that would protect the essential liberties necessary for that stability and permanence. What they failed to do regarding slavery was a source of conflict that eventually led to a form of collapse called civil war and continuing civil strife to this day. The test for American Society is how we will resolve this issue going forward.

But because there is confusion among Americans as to what liberty and its attenuating rights are, there is an impediment to resolving conflicts. We seem intent more on changing the past rather than ensuring our liberty for the future.  One of the most glaring examples of this is the corruption of free speech. It is of no small concern that this trend has become imbedded in our educational institutions, nearly all of which in various degrees are regulated by government. It is common practice to have students and teachers disciplined, expelled or fired for expressing ideas contrary to whatever majoritarianism is extant at the time.

This corruption of one of our most cherished liberties, an explicit right stated in our constitution, provides an insight of a phenomenon so contrary to Alexis de Tocqueville’s empirical observation. Historians call the study of societal collapse “collapsology”; while the term may appear a product of modern linguistic invention, it has been around for quite some time. It entails a multidisciplinary approach as there are many factors that can lead to this, but one that is in the realm of sociology, i.e. principally political science and economics, is within society’s ability to avoid; to repress a peoples’ natural right to express themselves, even if that expression is repugnant to others in society, will lead to polarizations and conflicts that will surely be the cause of that society’s demise.

While there are natural phenomena over which humans have no control, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, that have contributed to societal collapse, understanding and respecting the natural rights of everyone should not be a difficult thing to do. However, history has shown that time and again the draw of power has proven to be stronger than the mutual respect required for a civil society.  The Roman Republic fell in to despotic imperialism, spawning the chaos of the Middle Ages and its varied monarchies. While the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman, it was an absolute monarchy. The French Revolution resulted in the First Republic, which quickly devolved in to despotism similar to the monarchies before it. All during these periods war, famine and plague were the results of just plain really bad judgements, culminating in the Great War, the supposed war to end all wars, a war to preserve democracy; of course it proved nothing of that kind but the source of even greater despotism in Europe and Asia, and also the Americas. There again poor judgements led to economic collapse, societal stress and conflicts, culminating in another world war with even worse atrocities, all contributing to conditions so inimical to a society Alexis de Tocqueville described.

There were many types of repressive regimes that evolved between these two catastrophic world wars, but what they all had in common was the growth of statism, of large all powerful and encompassing governments. They were all forms of socialism from the Marxists communism of the USSR to the gang tactics of the National Socialist Party. In America we had the New Deal, which really was not all that new, just another form of Democratic Socialism.  As A.E. Samaan once said “Democratic Socialism is simply totalitarianism that allows you the illusion of a voice in the matter.” It really doesn’t matter if the form of despotism comes from the ballot box, a coup or devolution from freedom to serfdom as the results are the same. 

Actually, the best way to describe the type of socialism that has prevailed in the US is to understand what Benito Mussolini, in discussions with his star pupil Juan Peron, described as the kind of socialism we have today when he said “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.” Now we should not be thrown off by the word “fascism”, a term all too often thrown around modern American politics without any understanding of its origin or nature. The term is derived from an ancient Roman symbolism, possibly passed down from Etruscans, representing a magistrate’s power and jurisdiction. Fasces were a bound bundle of wooden rods around an axe, carried by Lictors who were a magistrates body guards. Magistrates, such as Praetors, had both judicial and executive powers, i.e. judge and executioner. Easy to understand is negative derivation.

Often the term is reserved for what is commonly assumed to be a “right wing” phenomenon, when in reality any political party in power can manifest such tendencies.  Here again the right versus left spectrum is such a badly contrived political analysis. As George Orwell so eloquently stated, the real political division is between statists and libertarians; he would have said liberals if we were referring to 18th century political science, another indication of the fluidity of definitions in modern times.

Let’s go back to education in America. In 2017, about 44.4% of adults over 25 years of age had an associate degree or higher; 16.3% had some college education but no degree; 28.8% were high school graduates; 10.4 percent had less than a high school education. In polls taken regarding basic economics, about a third of those under middle age had little to no concept of what that was, and less than half of seniors fared better. When asked if capitalism was a result or a cause of freedom, overwhelmingly few answered correctly. When asked about what was the equivalent term to describe the time preference of money, pitifully few even understood the question. When asked what made for a store of value and a reliable medium of exchange, even less had a clue what that meant. So when we hear that more and more young Americans are in favor of socialism, an invented and compulsory system of societal relationships that has failed time and again, we should understand the lack of basic economics that informs them, an obvious failure of our educational system.

History has shown that socialism will always fail because it is not concerned with the creation of wealth, only the redistribution of it. This is done because socialist confuse compassion with compulsion. In his Second Treatise of Government, John Locke wrote that an individual “…seeks out and is willing to join in society with others for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties, and estates, which I call by the general name, property.” Where in America today do students even hear the name John Locke, let alone what he wrote. It is doubtful that they even know who Adam Smith really was.  They are likely to hear he was an evil economist promoting selfish capitalism, when in fact he wasn’t even an economist, but a moral philosopher and sociologist.

It does not serve the state well to have students learn what makes for a truly civil society as that undermines the power of the state. How many students have ever heard of Walter E. Williams, recently deceased, but certainly a contemporaneous economist of Klugman and Samuelson, but seldom given much exposure academically despite the fact of his status as a Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University. Understandably he can’t be in much favor with progressives when credited with his statement that “What our nation needs is a separation of business and state as it has a separation of church and state. That would mean crony capitalism and crony socialism could not survive.” Notice how he included both cronyisms as he clearly understood the essence of Mussolini Fascism.

Now how does this all relate to the title of this blog?  Well as we have traveled the road of our own history, we have made judgements to take a course toward socialism. Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressivism helped set the stage for the Wilson administrations during which the Federal Reserve and income tax were created, all contributing to America’s ability to participate in the obscene conflicts spawned by European and Asian imperialism, together with some of our own militaristic adventures. “Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.” James Madison wrote in the Federalist; he was well aware of tyranny’s insatiable hunger for more and more power and that crises provide cover for that. It’s not a coincidence that the 20th Century was an era of constant conflict and strife aided by this phenomenon.

Americans did not consciously veer toward socialism. Politicians did not explicitly propose such ideas; what they did is argue for the power to protect people from themselves. They often cited the preamble to the constitution as proof that the Founder’s intent was for the Federal government to “…promote the general Welfare,… “. As the primary author of the constitution, Madison clearly stated in his many contributions to the Federalist Papers that the preamble is only an introduction and it does not define government powers or individual rights. He also made clear that the intent of the welfare clause was not a means of benevolence but a means test that a tax is only legitimate if it is for funding clearly enumerated powers stated in the constitution. Further, that charity is not a legislative power.

In more current times, the American economist F.A. Harper expressed the concept of charity toward others more in keeping with ++S’s observations when he stated that “Assistance given voluntarily is truly charity; that taken from another by force is not charity at all, in spite of its use for avowed charitable purposes. The virtue of compassion and charity cannot be sired by the vice of thievery. All told, the process of political charity is about as complete a violation of the requisites of charity as can be conceived.”

It has become about as close to an axiom of government redistribution policies that very time there is some kind of redistribution of wealth, the funds distributed are reduced by the inevitable parasitic nature of bureaucracies. This phenomenon was well expressed by President Reagan’s summary of such economic policies when he noted that “If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

Regarding any dissent toward such policies, what have you heard? I’m not referring to the partisan practice of the party not in power, such as currently the case with the Republicans, criticizing the tax and spend policies of the Democrats, as their concern about debt only seems to arise when they are not in power. Notice that during the Trump administration, not only was such an outcry absent, but they created the largest deficit to date. True the Democrats will definitely exceed that greatly, but that does not make the Republicans a financially responsible party.

On the issue of dissent, free speech is not an important issue to either of the two main political parties, and both have embraced Mussolini’s methodology by making corporations, specifically media as regards free speech, their instrument of repression. Direct government intervention would surely result in obvious constitutional challenges, but “private” entities have no such restrictions under the constitution. While Trump’s posts on social media are repugnant to most Americans, Facebook’s policies are clearly censorship and Americans should object to that.

One of the most obvious tools that government has to “influence” the private sector in this and other issues is the tax structure. In a recent interview by Joe Wiesenthal of Bloomberg Markets, economist Stephanie Kelton, a professor of economics and public policy at Stony Brook University, and a leading expert on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), and a Senior Fellow at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research, was a guest. MMT has as one of its principal tenets that governments should print as much money as they want because deficits don’t matter, which she made clear on the show. Wiesenthal, being a fairly intelligent interviewer, asked the obvious question, i.e. “If we don’t need to worry about deficits, why do we have taxes?”

Great question, and Kelton’s answer, while grotesque, was also very insightful. What she basically said was that taxes are still required because “….they remove dollars from our hands, so we can’t spend them,….”; so while taxes make people poorer, they provide more power for the government as taxes can be used to punish certain people by redistributing their money for doing things she finds contrary to what the government wants them to do. Sounds like something right out of Mussolini’s play book.

Now consider what has happened very recently since the new administration took office.  We have proposals for trillions of dollars in programs, some described as “infrastructure” while only a fraction is for that, much of it for further social engineering. To pay for this, we will have increased taxation, further money printing, Federal Reserve “accommodation”, i.e. buying assets and artificially depressing interest rates, etc. When confronted with the growing alarm about inflation, we are told not to worry, it’s only “transitory”. When faced with the jobs reports show a slowing of new jobs and a criticism that related programs are counterproductive, the response is we need more of the same. When business complains that the increased unemployment benefits motivate a stay at home attitude among workers, the government goes in to denial mode. When the dollar dives due to MMT practices, we are told no big deal, we will get more of the same.

In recent reports from various economists who study monetary policies, alternative currencies and precious metals, it was noted that the assumptions regarding the US dollar were woefully out of touch with reality.  Take for example the government noting that the US still has gold reserves larger than any other country at some 8,500 tons. That was true, if you ignore what China has been doing for quite some time now. While their central bank still has less reserves than the US, they have three other institutions that have separate reserves, but still under control of their government, at an estimated total of some 20,000 tons. What is also noted is what China intends to do with all that gold. These same experts have been paying attention to what the Chinese have opening stated is their intent to not only put their currency, the yuan, on a gold standard, but also make it a digital currency. It’s understandable why many of these currency economists predict the end of the USD as the world’s reserve currency or preferred settlement currency for international trade.  China also encourages its citizens to own as much gold and Bitcoin as they can. Yes, China plans while the US and Europe keep drinking the cool aid of MMT.

Now what’s curious of course is why the US government even bothers with gold, or cares about reserves at all given the policies since FDR and Nixon that essentially killed the US gold standard. In reality, the gold standard has never really gone anywhere; it’s still with us, just in a different form.  While an ounce of gold is always just an ounce of gold, it’s the currencies that have changed, i.e. become weaker.  Note that when FDR thuggishly declared it illegal for Americans to own gold, it was set at $20/oz; as of today, it’s more than $1,800/oz, or in other words the USD has depreciated more than 90% of its gold standard value, and falling rapidly.

So when we are told that the new proposed taxes will only affect the rich and corporations, realize that the real, yet stealth but most insidious of taxes, i.e. monetary inflation, will affect us all, and that kind of inflation is not “transitory”, unless of course you believe that the US will cease MMT, pay down its $30T debt, balance the budget, cut spending, and restore a monetary standard for dollar stability; now that would be fiscally responsible, but forgive me if I just don’t see that happening any time soon.

So to all Americans who profess their desire for America to travel the failed route of socialism, sadly I think we’ve arrived, and neither the journey nor the destination is any fun. I’m at the point politically where I am agreeing more and more with the Polish political scientist Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewsk, who observed that “A libertarian is someone who graduated from thinking that there are problems with the state to realizing that the state is the problem.”

A Silly People

Recently a close relative sent me a transcript of Bill Maher’s diatribe at the close of his recent show about how America has become a nation of silly people. Maher used China as a comparative foil to illustrate how we’ve become so focused on meaningless things like renaming stuff, or self-destructive policies like eliminating merit, or woke insanity like debating if Mr. Potato Head has a penis, that we are losing the battle for the future.

While he described questionable feats of infrastructural engineering as fact, he failed to mention that China has built some cities that are vacant, and only briefly acknowledged the atrocities committed against the Uyghur Muslims, his point does have validity regarding the societal silliness that pervades much of our national dialogue.

However, Maher fails the freedom test when he proposes that “There’s got to be something between an authoritarian government that tells everyone what to do and a representative government that can’t do anything at all.” This kind of thinking is what got us into the silliness sink hole to begin with. The woke movement, while silly in so many ways, is also dangerous in a very insidious way. It presupposes that there is but one way to think about everything, and if you don’t agree with that you’re up for cancellation. It really doesn’t matter if such authoritarianism comes from a central committee or a majoritarian occult.

But the message that Maher’s rant provides needs to be considered even if it has these flaws.  America was once a very serious country, and like most imperfect in many ways.  That we were capable of seeing and freely talking about our faults is what made for a civil society, which created tolerance for others who may think and live differently than ourselves. What has happened in America is a decline in civility, the absence of the live and let live ethos where now we must all think alike, even about whether or not Dr. Seuss books need a dose of revisionism. We are replacing what is important to think about with hardly thinking at all; yes, that is a silly people.

It is also true of Maher’s rant that China, while still politically repressive, has made incredible progress since it allowed a more free market. China will continue having growing pains as the results of a free market collide with its statist politics. What still baffles me is how America, with about a fifth of China’s population, remains the largest economy in the world.  That may not last too much longer as China’s economy continues to grow; its outsized population alone is a key factor driving that reality.

The dynamism of the American economy was due to the synergy of a free society and a free market; the two elements were inseparable and essential for its economic dominance.  As we politically veer toward more authoritarianism and economic interventionism, coupled with our insatiable military adventurism that depletes our financial and human resources, our dynamism will decline at the same time as China’s could exponentially rise.

China does not dwell on social justice; fact is it doesn’t really dwell on justice much at all.  It is all about results and at any costs. There is no pluralism in China. If you are not ethnically a Han, which represents nearly 92% of the population, you are treated as a second class citizen, or worse like the Uyghurs. This has been the way in China long before Mao and there is little indication that will change anytime soon. If you are not in harmony with The State Council, the central governing body, politically controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, you will find yourself in a pretty bad place as the people in Hong Kong know all too well.

In recent US media articles and congressional hearings, praise was expressed for how China handles the internet.  Now talk about how silly Americans can be, we the champions of free speech and expression, literally “kowtowing” to a repressive regime like China. This was not a polarizing moment by the way as both political parties are guilty of such obscene behavior. China’s motivation for such censorship is obvious, but what are leaders in a free press and representative government thinking when they say such silly things; perhaps, they are not thinking at all, or perhaps only thinking of how they too can control people.

These tendencies to undermine what made America such a dynamic country is worse than silly, it’s self-destructive. It ignores or denigrates our heritage, both the good and the bad; we need to understand the differences in order to focus on what it takes to make things better. You can’t change the past, and to make a better future you have to live in the present, not some silly Bizarro World where you hold the living responsible for things that happened before they were even born.

You will not see China practice such self-deprecation; they’re all about moving forward, albeit in lockstep if they know what’s good for them. America used to be all about the future.  Now we seem stuck in a hopeless time trap about making amends for things that happened that we had little if anything to do with; there’s no vision in that, and therefore no way to live productively. While it’s important to learn from history, it’s even more important to put what you learn to work for you.

For example, many of today’s financial news reporters were gushing about how many people found jobs last month, far more than expected. Some of the more observant and serious reporters, while positive about the good news, noted the more sobering reality that this was not about real growth but an economy opening up again.  One of the important details they stressed was that many of the jobs will not be coming back as companies are learning the benefits of the technology they had to live with during the lock downs; the future for mindless and repetitive labor means fewer lower end jobs. This was already true pre-pandemic; it just accelerated out of necessity. People will need to change with the times and learn new skills in this technological revolution, or be left behind. It’s no different than what happened during the Industrial Revolution, an historical lesson in creative destruction.  China sees this and is not getting caught up in myopic thinking about how to keep antiquated jobs on life support in order to appease a segment of its labor force. Here in the US, the cronyism between unions and government is continuing to be a drag on real economic progress; another example of what silly people do.

When President Macron of France in a recent speech rejected the woke movement in the US, stating that France needs to focus on and embrace what really matters in life, you know that when such criticism comes from the French you must really look silly in the eyes of the world. The US needs to get serious again and embrace our heritage of ingenuity, productivity, and a great work ethic, and shed this miasma of silly thinking and reject the government’s efforts to make us dependent on their stimulus. After all, it’s our future at stake, and that’s no silly matter.

Blowing Smoke

It would be comical reading and listening to all the madness in Albany about the passage of marijuana legalization until you consider the actual bill and the back story that it tells.  The lack of understanding what they are dealing with makes the NYS legislators appear like they have had one too many joints themselves while drafting this bill. 

Now there are plenty of examples of what other states have done and the results to have informed them of the situation they are dealing with, but politicians seldom if ever consider the consequences of their actions, and this is no exception. While I am all for ending the stupidity of the war on drugs, anyone with a modicum of common sense will see the various ways this bill will do little to change the situation.

The bill legalizes the recreational use of marijuana as long as it is distributed in a proscribed manner by dispensaries licensed to do so.  We already have the New York State Liquor Authority, and now we have the New York State Office of Cannabis Management.  The history of alcohol control in the US with the Prohibition and the criminal activity it spawned should have been informative enough to have ended the war on drugs before it even started.

Consider the fact that since Nixon declared a “war on drugs”, with the goal being the eradication of drug use, interdiction of any distribution, and the incarceration of all involved, there has been no progress if measured by results given the ever increasing market, all for the tax payers’ bill of $51B/year, and you have to wonder what hallucinatory drugs legislators are on to think they can control the cannabis market.

The situation with marijuana is quite different from that with alcohol. Marijuana is as ubiquitous in consumption as alcohol, but far easier to produce. It’s called weed for a reason and grows with ease whereas alcohol requires agricultural harvesting, processing and distillation; far easier to import alcohol than make it, hence the difference between moonshiners and bootleggers.

Marijuana requires nothing more than seed and a place to grow it.  Drug trafficking is for cartels that are into much more potent and expensive products like cocaine, heroin, etc. Marijuana grows everywhere, so who needs a cartel? Therein lies one of the problems states have found with the presumption of new found revenues in controlling the cannabis market; who needs to pay the added costs for a controlled market when the distribution is already so organically established and extensive?

We do have the need for legalization to end the incarceration of so many young people, especially minorities. The question now becomes what if they are found involved in bootleg pot? I can’t help thinking about what happened to Eric Garner in 2014 for bootleg cigarettes.  Imagine the barbarity of murdering that man over such a thing, but this bill creates the same environment.

Besides, don’t think for a minute that the motivation for this legislation was related to such considerations.  This was a power grab plain and simple, a revenue stream that was too much for Albany to ignore, but they are in for the same lessons in economics as the other states that passed similar legislation.  If it simply stopped with decriminalization, that would have been true progress, but obviously that’s not the case; what it does is it transfers the problem and costs of enforcing the prohibition of a product, to controlling its market in order to squeeze out revenues. The costs of the resources to continue with the drug war remains, but now we have the added costs for the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, and all that goes with it.

Consider some of the many requirements for being licensed, such as unionized labor, minority prioritization, and other such “social justice” goals, all of which are typical political machinations to garner votes, the costs of which will find its way to the price of pot from licensed vendors, and to the revenues required for “control”.  So after you add up all the taxes, fees, unionized labor and bureaucratic infrastructure on top of the cost to grow and distribute cannabis, it’s easy to understand why so many states that have tried to do this have had a hard time at best competing with what is already in place through the spontaneous and organic market that has been developed, albeit underground, ever since the “Reefer Madness” days nearly a century ago. 

Bad enough that government thinks it has the right to control what people choose to do themselves, but to do so after they already have, and for quite a long time, is like looking to get on a train that’s been long gone. So don’t be fooled by legislation presented as progress as it’s just another scheme to make an already bloated bureaucracy even bigger; it’s all just blowing smoke up you now where.

Feel Good or Do Good

“Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.” James Madison

“Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant.” James Madison

There is so much of a media show of good feelings coming out of Washington now, mostly about how the party in power will deal with all the crises we have that all need immediate solutions. It is true that some do, like the failed distribution of COVID19 vaccinations, but not all problems are a crisis and even at that most are inappropriate for government involvement, let alone intervention. But everything is put in the context of a crisis that needs an immediate solution, even if that solution is not sustainable, is contrary to the Constitution, has long term negative consequences, or even immediate consequences that are counterproductive.

As long as “good intentions” can somehow be spun to justify the most egregious violations of liberty, it’s fine because the greater good is spun out as greater than liberty. Those that question presidential orders, tie-breaking legislation, demands for fair shares, lobbying activities, economic bobbling heads and endless political pundit briefs have been overwhelmed by the tsunami of feel good politics and media right think that such concerns have little if any chance of being heard. Gone are any pretenses at the bi-partisanship collaboration promised by the new administration; now it’s go along or go away.

There should be no surprises here as it’s what duopolists do; the Democrats do it to the Republicans, who then do it to the Democrats, and so on. Well what would we expect, it’s the Potomac Two Step and you can only dance if it’s your party that runs the party. So while the power gorging goes on, at least until the mid-terms, the spite spectacle will rock.

By the way, disregard all these outcries about tie breaking in the Senate. Madison’s Constitutional Dilemma only pertains to the Senate in that a tie is broken with a vote from the Executive Branch, i.e. the Vice President. In the House, the tie-breaker is the Speaker, who comes from among those elected to the legislature, but while they can vote as any other member of the House, they usually reserve the right unless required to either break a tie, or actually effect one in order to kill a proposed bill as ties in the House do that; so there is no issue regarding the separation of powers doctrine in the House. Ties don’t happen often in the House in any event, but in the Senate it now happened 270 times, meaning on that many occasions the executive branch literally legislated. 

This is why it’s called a dilemma, and Madison often said he wished a better way was constructed, such as George Mason’s suggestion that the President of the Senate be chosen and would act the same as the Speaker of the House so as to maintain the separation of powers doctrine. We would be better served had that been the solution chosen; to have the executive branch allowed to legislate is a dangerous flaw in our Constitution and should be addressed with an amendment; for now, we will have to live with Madison’s dilemma.

So on to our current dilemmas and crises. Funny how the Republicans, the self-proclaimed voices of fiscal temperance, created the largest budget overruns and contributions to the debt burden in history over the last four years, now balk because the Democrats will likely break that record; so they now find that old time religion of frugality. Is it an effort for redemption or following a script when you hold the loosing hand? Regardless, don’t be impressed as their ploy to go with a stimulus package for half what the Democrats want is like advocating taking just a little poison, rather than ask why take poison at all. Game over, tie breaker done, the full Monty goes in to play.

If you are concerned as to where all of this feel good money will come from, that’s easy stuff.  You have printing presses at the UST, and a central bank called the Federal Reserve to “create” all the money needed, and spending with one party rule in the White House and Congress will never be easier; that is until you get the bill. Milton Friedman once astutely observed “Keep your eye on one thing and one thing only, and that’s how much government is spending, because that’s the true tax.”

If you are listening to the financial news lately, you may be struck with the mounting concern about inflation due to all this spending. The chorus was started when Lawrence Summers, former Chief Economist for the World Bank and Under Secretary of the UST, questioned the wisdom and long term consequences of the stimulus plans; this from someone who often drank the cool aid of modern monetary theory and financial stimulus. The reaction from many who also drank that stuff was vociferous, as if Summers was guilty of heresy; well maybe he was because as Ron Paul once observed, truth is heresy in a culture of lies. Instead of dismissing those concerns, they had the temerity to tell us inflation doesn’t matter. Really, then explain stagflation which happens often when money and credit expansion in a recession creates such phenomena? 

As an example of how financial stimulus can cause inflation, take the inane debate over setting a minimum wage. If history tells us anything, it is the absurdity of wage and price controls.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, less than 900K Americans could potentially rise from the poverty level with a $15/hr. minimum wage, but the economic effect on businesses, especially small businesses, would be devastating, killing 1.4M jobs. Don’t expect the House to talk much about facts because Representatives have just a two year term, and talking facts can kill votes. Oh, you heard the Republicans say that?  No you didn’t, you heard them say that such a wage increase is too large, something smaller is better. This ignores the obvious by playing a quantitative game.  Common sense should inform us that when the cost of labor goes up, so do prices, and when that happens, those on minimum wage will find a larger paycheck that buys less.

Politicians play the emotional game because sadly it works in a culture that no longer wants to deal with facts. Tell the masses that they are oppressed because those billionaires are stealing from them by providing goods and services that they are told they can’t live without. Oppression makes people feel bad, so propose what makes people feel good; ask them to think and you might as well slit your political throat.

Consider the cries for taxing the rich.  Now first define who the rich are, and we get a statistical reference as those who earn about $400K/yr. or more as of 2018 CBO and OMB statistics. With the swelling ranks of paper money billionaires over the past few years that is projected to rise to $500K/yr. for 2020. This appears to be the defining tipping point for the despised 1%.  So now let’s get ready to at least slit our wrists and consider some facts from the very same CBO, who had the audacity to cross check facts with the good will people at the IRS: the top 1% pay 40% of tax revenues, the top 10% pay 70%, the top 50% pay 97%; so simple arithmetic shows that the bottom 50% pay just 3%. Please note that these are rough and rounded statistics as of 2018; preliminary projections for 2019 and 2020 are even more skewed to the top carrying even greater burdens. As John Adams pointed out, facts are stubborn things.

The feel good stuff seems never ending; consider government guaranteed student loan forgiveness as an example of this free stuff for all mentality. Keep in mind that when you hear the term government guarantees, it’s actually tax payer guarantees. The spin is that the loans present a huge burden on those least able to pay, but that’s simply not the case. According to a study by the Brookings Institute, the highest income group of 40% (top two quintiles) of American households hold 58% of this debt, the middle quintile hold 22%, and the lowest income group of 40% (bottom two quintiles) of American households hold 20%. The total debt of student loans is $1.6T, of which about 15% are in default at any one time. The American tax payer is currently left with approximately $250B of loan defaults already, but the feel good spin is to add another $1.35T to that burden, which is what cancelling that debt means. The banks that make the loans hold the guarantees, and the educational institutions paid from those loans already have the money. Feeling better yet?

So in the feel good spirit we have executive orders, but given all the press about Joe Biden’s Presidential Order mania, his predecessor in just four years managed more than seven times that, but in fairness Joe just got started.  Of course he has a long way to go to match the three presidents that came before him, but he’s off to a good start. It’s doubtful though that he’ll beat Garfield, Wilson and certainly not FDR, but his term is young. One of the orders to note is the closure of all Federal lands to oil and gas exploration and harvesting.  Now consider the fact that almost 28% of the entire US is federal land.  In Alaska, one of the most oil and gas rich states in the US, more than 61% of the state is federal land, and accounts for 20% of all US oil and gas production. So Biden decrees that all federal land will no longer be available for this.

So what happened to the nation of laws and not of men?  Is not a law that says no harvesting oil and gas on federal lands the venue of Congress, the legislative branch, and not the President, the executive branch?  This corruption of the Constitution regarding executive powers has been going on at least and most prominently since Wilson and Roosevelt, but it doesn’t get a free pass; it’s absurd as we do not elect kings.  Why then, when the American economy can at long last look forward to starting up again, and all that means for energy supply and demand, would we have a suppression of availability of 9% of capacity?

Granted, cleaner energy is the way of the future, but by definition, the future is not now.  We are dealing now with a clear and present economic crisis, so why provide a body punch when we are just getting back on our feet? That really doesn’t feel good and certainly does none of us any good. Not to pick on any one issue, but why is it that politicians always seem to prefer policies that feel good over policies that actually do good? The answer is because the former provides power, and the later provides solutions; when you solve a problem, there’s no longer a need for power, and without power, politicians have serious withdrawal symptoms, and so are left with panic mongering that everything, in this case climate change, is a crisis more deserving consideration than economic recovery.

Then you have healthcare. We’re not talkingCOVID19, but the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Consider that with that act health care cost actually rose about 40% from $2.60T/yr. to $3.65T/yr. The intent was to make health care more “affordable”; the actual consequences are anything but. Despite that we hear we will get an expansion of ACA, although we also hear that the Medicare-For-All is supposedly not realistic.  So what then, will we see only another 40% hike because doing more would mean even more than that? Less is not more here, more will mean less care, but you will pay more. But that’s fine because you will feel good about that, right?

As justification, there are those that claim that the Constitution actually provides for the welfare of the country in the General Welfare Clause (Art. 1, Sect. 8). That is an incorrect and self-serving interpretation of the power elite of what the founders, principally Madison, intended as he and others explained in the Federalist Papers. Madison clearly defined that clause as not a means of benevolence but as a means test that a tax must be for funding clearly enumerated powers only, and further that charity is not a legislative power. Again, what feels good does not guarantee what does good, and as the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

On that subject of COVID19, both regarding vaccinations and stimulus aid, we have a constitutional issue in that the administration and Congress, and also some states such as New York, have proposed and in some cases are actually proceeding based on racial profiling. Take a look at the various application forms to schedule a vaccination and you will see questions for racial profiling. Vaccination centers are being located according to the racial composition of a location, and with stimulus aid according to the same criteria. The problem is that this violates the 14th Amendment, specifically The Equal Protection Clause. To spin such practices as “progressive” is an oxymoron if there ever was one as it is patently regressive to act on the basis of race. Trump used the race card and we rightfully railed against that, yet we now have even a more polarizing situation.

Then there’s the power play with another crisis raising the cries for anti-trust actions, mainly against “Big Tech”. Yes, the FANG are in the progressive cross hairs.  The problem is, according to current law, they’ve done nothing wrong, except of course be amazingly successful by providing invaluable technology making life so much easier with benefits our forefathers could not even imagine. To combat such atrocious behavior politicians will simply change the laws so whatever the accusation is will suffice as proof because government should have the power to do that, right?  No, but big corporations will be complacent if not complicit as they play the cronyism game, ushering in the kind of socialism Benito Mussolini taught his most famous pupil, Juan Peron, specifically that “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.”  Are we there yet?   

We can only hope that the Supreme Court will be there for us; maybe, but there’s a solution for that too.  Biden has convened a special commission for this crisis “to fix the problem with the Supreme Court”, and such ideas as stacking it, changing tenure, broadening composition via a judicial lottery, and other ideas for “solutions” have been suggested. You see, when an administration is aware that they will have constitutional issues, they need to find a way to control those who rule on constitutional issues, you know, like they do in Russia and China. Don’t think that can’t happen when you already have some in Congress praising China for how it controls free speech, especially on the internet, because “…they got it right.”

A friend of mine said he read somewhere on social media a joke that the government accidentally shut itself down due to the ban on non-essential businesses; on the one hand, it was humorous, but it does evoke the horror of lockdowns. There have been many such draconian actions by governments, but time and again they have done little if any good, and a great deal of harm. To decree someone’s business is “non-essential” is basically putting them out of business.  The pitiful spectacle of having them then put on the public dole condemns them to a slow death; we have a staggering rise in crime, alcohol and drug addiction, depression and in some cases suicides. Indeed, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville wrote during his early 19C tour of the US, “We note that humans, when faced with an imminent danger, rarely remain at their habitual level; they rise far above, or sink far below, but it is more common to see, among men as among nations, extraordinary virtues born of the immediacy of adversity.” So let’s all hope for some extraordinary virtue soon.

Racism Has No Color

“The idea of social justice is that the state should treat different people unequally in order to make them equal.”

Historians have time lined the Civil Rights Movement from 1954 to 1968. That may seem arbitrary given the continuous calls for racial equality from many groups, politicians and activists to the present day. The era of the 50’s and 60’s, provides a perspective of the many conflicting elements within it.  You Have Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Louis Farrakhan and many others, each with their own message regarding the state of racism in America. In this era of BLM and other ideologies of social justice, it gets confusing as to what if any progress has been made since then regarding what racism is.

Recently I listened to an April 2018 rerun of a debate on MSNBC between Toure Neblett and Kmele Foster about Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during an NFL game to protest the oppression of blacks in the criminal justice system.  What was telling in this debate was the way Toure treated Kmele, who obviously was not really all that focused on the NFL as much as the issue of criminal justice and racism.  Kmele was advocating rising above the black versus white narrative to focus more on the essence of the issue. Toure was emoting politically, and in effect, racially. If you have a moment, see the YouTube clip.

Kmele was providing statistics to show that the issue is with the criminal justice system itself and that the abuses were just as, and in some cases, even more so effecting white people. These statistics are not new but readily available by the FBI that accumulates and publishes criminal data from all over the US. Toure would have no part of that, facts were irrelevant in his view and Kmele was guilty of perpetrating a statistical hoax ignoring the oppression of blacks by the system.

In the more recent news the US has finally condemned the Chinese genocide against the Uighurs of Western China.  The dominant ethnic group in China is the Han; the Uighurs is a minority that is ethnically, culturally and religiously distinct from the Han. There within the most populous country in the world we have radical and institutional racism, proof that this horrible condition that has plagued humanity since primitive times is still with us.

In Africa, the tribal warfare in so many countries has resulted in repeated genocides reminding us that racism is not limited to color, but can occur within races based on the most ridiculous trivia differentiating the antagonists. In Europe the racism against Jews has been a dominant societal problem for millennia, culminating in the Holocaust, yet both the perpetrators and the victims were Caucasian.

The point is that racism has no color, neither for the perpetrator or the victim; it is a sickness born of the most crudely primitive form of collectivism that race is a fundamental determinant to distinguish one another as inferior or superior. It is therefore racist to ascribe racism as an inherent trait of anyone race, if not self-defeating to assume that only one race can be a victim of racism.

The moment race becomes a determinant in the judgement about another person, or group of people, you have racism; it simply is not more complicated than that.  The problem arises when that simple understanding is lost, especially with all the nonsense perpetrated about how anyone is inherently guilty of racism simply by being born in any particular racial category; this is similar to the lowest and most immoral idea of a form of original sin, but without any means of redemption.

It took one of the bloodiest civil wars of mankind to end slavery in America, and a long tortured history of repressed liberty for African Americans and other minorities to win their civil rights that we are all entitled to. So to now have a cultural divide where those achievements are ignored, forgotten or marginalized is a regression, a sign that the essential issue of equality before the law is being replaced by inequality by the law. Currently this idea is more covert under the guise of the current virtue signaling called social justice. Back in the days of the Civil Rights Movement it was much more overt with the likes of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, fundamentally motivated by an anti-white theology. The best summation of what social justice is was given by Hayek when he said “The idea of social justice is that the state should treat different people unequally in order to make them equal.”

Diametrically the opposite of such racism was Martin Luther King Jr., rightfully considered the greatest of the civil rights leaders.  His message was not about racism but the opposite, one of true equality under the law, benevolence to all people, against violence and coercion, but also one of courage and love.  This message was so beautifully expressed in his most famous speech from the 1963 March on Washington when he said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

So I thought about all this recently while I was waiting on line for two hours on a cold night outside a church on Long Island waiting for our first COVID19 vaccine shot; I had plenty of time to think about a lot of things that night, but what got me thinking about all this was the application for the shot we had to fill out on a website earlier that day when we heard that our age group now qualified for the vaccine and that unexpectedly some pop-up sites were commissioned. When I saw the application I was stunned to see there where so many questions of racial profiling, but thankfully there was an option to not answer such questions. We completed the form and submitted it, hoping that our refusal to answer the racial profiling would not work against us. Anxiously my wife called numerous times to check on status and just in time we were told to get to the church right away as we got one of the last few appointments available.

Later on as we drove home, I said to my wife that while I had heard some news about a few politicians talking to the idea of prioritizing vaccine availability racially, I had not given it much thought.  I truly believed that our governments would never condone such a vile policy, one so inimical to the concept of equality, but apparently that was foolish of me. A few days later the news reported that Governor Cuomo had directed that the next vaccine shipments be doled out to churches whose congregational leaders would determine who gets them.

So what happened to the CDC prioritization protocols for first attending to medical staff, first responders, and the aged, especially those in nursing homes, and those with underlying medical conditions? These seemed like sensible guidelines giving what was known about this virus being particularly lethal for the aged and sick, and having those that attended to them immunized first. After all, haven’t we all heard that we need to rely on science and common sense and practice hygienically proven deterrents against spreading the disease? We also heard repeated ad infinitum and maybe ad museum that “We are all in this together!”  Well depressingly, maybe not quite all of us after all.

More and more this idea of prioritizing vaccine availability racially is gaining traction.  Today the news tells about discussions in the new administrations considering such policies.  I thought we were in for an era of ending divisiveness and working on unity, so how then does such an idea even get air time? I also read an article today about the State of Oregon convening a special committee to come up with proposals for implementing such a policy.

Even more yet as Congress debates about funds for helping small businesses recover post pandemic are likely to be tied up with legal problems arising from proposed language to prioritize such funds racially; apparently there is this little nagging problem with that called the Constitution which presents, hopefully, big legal hurdles for such ideas.

It is hardly sufficient to provide the ever present virtue signaling called social justice as a reason for such racism.  We recently celebrated a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., and on that day my six year old granddaughter came to me to tell me all about his famous speech and proudly recited the quote noted above perfectly.  I wonder what lessons schools will be teaching about equality as she gets older.  I hope she never forgets that quote.

We just recently had the inauguration of a new president, one who has promised that the divisiveness and polarization of the past will not be the way of the future with his administration.  We are not getting off to a very good start. He has declared that his choices for cabinet and other top posts are being made on the basis on the candidate’s race, sex or other metrics that signal inclusiveness.  I have not heard that merit is one of the metrics considered; perhaps I missed that.

Whence then is evil?

To be able to exercise coercion, you need power, and therein we find the source of evil, the power over human beings.

Considering the massive volumes on the nature of good and evil written over the ages the answer to the question posed in the title should be intuitively apparent. However, given so many babbling interpretations of what is evil and where it comes from, much of it theological, we shouldn’t wonder why this is not the case.

What I am proposing is not something new, doesn’t take a leap of faith, or endless dialectic debate. Often human beings make things so overly complicated, even obtuse, when it would serve us better to just listen to a few great minds through history that have, through empirical observation and logic, often building on those who came before them, reached a clarity on the subject that can be comprehended readily.

To understand this on a basic and natural human level we must first put aside theological prejudices that inhibit logical perspective. If you disagree with that premise then answer Epicurus’ riddle, or razor if you prefer, regarding the nature of God and evil: “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” This razor does not discount the existence of God, only the nature of God and of evil. However, to track evil to its core, we need to keep our minds free from doctrines that are not based on empirical reality.

One of the universally acceptable definitions of early philosophers regarding what evil was basically held that it was suffering, sorrow, and distress resulting from wrongdoing, all of which was morally reprehensible. Such Western ancients like Aristotle, Plato, and Epicurus defined it by the process of elimination of what is not good or beneficial.

In the late Roman Republic we have Cicero, considered by many historians as Rome’s greatest political scholar, who wrote “True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting….” Cicero wrote often about what he considered natural or true law, and while he saw many evils perpetrated by his contemporaries like Cesare, Octavian, et al, he also determined what was evil by an elimination of what was good or beneficial, but more often for the state than for people in general.

The late Roman Era Augustine says that evil was not created by God, that it is an accident of creation that corrupts the human will causing suffering. You have to truly make a leap of faith here because if God created all things, but not evil, then as Epicurus asked, where did that come from.

With Early Renaissance Aquinas we get a break through as he holds that existence and truth are interconnected and are good, and those things that are not a natural part of existence and truth are evil. Although still somewhat a process of elimination, it does maintain that human existence is good, as is freedom, self-preservation, marriage, family, etc. and that which harms it is evil. This is important as Aquinas talks to the concept of natural law for human existence, a precursor to the Enlightenment.

So Augustine and Aquinas proposed that evil could not exist within God, nor be created by God. They rejected the notion that evil exists in itself, proposing instead that it is a corruption of nature, implying that good is man’s nature; some very positive thoughts, but still though we are left with the question as to where evil comes from?

Lao Tzu’s concept of evil is very useful for understanding.  He differentiated between casual and consequential evil, the former created by human will, and the later as a consequence of various natural occurrences. Without going into Taoism, impossible in the confines of a blog post, consider an example: cancer is an evil thing as it causes so much suffering, but it is a biological consequence, unrelated to human will; then consider genocide, purely an act of human will. Let’s leave what Lao Tzu meant with these examples for the purposes of this discussion.

What we have with Taoism is that evil comes from two sources, basically human will and natural occurrences, which can at times be interrelated. Natural occurrences bear no moral responsibility, as that is a human issue. Human will, which means from the minds of men, involves moral responsibility. There is the issue of unintended consequences, which in truth can make critical analysis more difficult, but still needs to be addressed.

There has been more recent research done by psychiatrists that suggests that evil is the intentional infliction of harm on others merely for the pleasure of doing so. I find this insufficient logically because it doesn’t address evil resulting from such human conditions like narcissism, where there is an absence of any consideration of the results of ones actions and therefore devoid of any consideration of others. Also rage, where one loses the ability to control emotions, like empathy, disregarding the consequences on others. Then there are instances where great evil was done with the intention of not doing harm or enjoying the harm done, but in the name of some greater good, but has unintended consequences that are patently evil.

There are current political philosophers who propose that evil represents the antithesis of order and peace. Does that make anarchists evil? Were our founding fathers evil for promoting insurrection? Such a proposition could be mere sophistry to support a state whose policy of order and peace is oppression and coercion, things themselves that are evil. Therefore such a thesis is only valid if the order and peace are beneficial to the natural laws of human existence, seldom the case in history, so not a valid foundation of understanding.

Now back to Aquinas in order to proceed to the Enlightenment.  Here we have the development of the antithesis of evil, meaning what is good, as a way to understand better where evil comes from.  We can go through so many philosophers, sociologists and political scientists of the period, but who stands out paramount of all is John Locke. I didn’t include economists as that discipline of study had yet to exist; contrary to popular belief Adam Smith was not an economist but a philosopher and sociologist, who did contribute invaluably to the Enlightenment, but not in the same sense as what we’re looking for.

Locke gives due credit to Aquinas but it should be noted that he was at first not a proponent of religious tolerance, but gradually came to the conclusion that suppression of such was contrary to natural law by repressing freedom. Locke is rightfully considered the founder of modern natural law and rights, and while he was a religious man himself, did not lean theologically for his thesis. Like Aquinas, he maintained that human existence was good and inexorably tied to truth, meaning that which is essential for self-preservation is the true meaning of existence and therefore good, and that these included life, liberty and property. Please note that the last was always a part of Locke’s natural law whereas it was Jefferson who partially plagiarized it with “….life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….” in the Declaration of Independence.

Locke based these three prime elements of natural law logically, meaning without life, there are no rights, without liberty there is depravation of life, and importantly for clear understanding, without the ownership of the products of life and liberty, providing for its own industry, human life and liberty are diminished contrary to natural law. Therefore, evil comes from the violation of natural law depriving man of these essential rights.

Further, the violation of natural law and rights is only made possible by coercion, and therefore it is existentially necessary to defend against it.  To be able to exercise coercion, you need power, and therein we find the source of evil, the power over human beings.  If history teaches us anything, it is this insatiable hunger for power which drives men to act with malice toward their fellow human beings. Such power requires human effort, depriving men of liberty, often using that power to deprive others of their life and property.

It is not that the earlier philosophers like Aristotle, Plato, and Augustine didn’t see this as it has been the way of mankind for millennia, as they did recognize it by the empirical process of eliminating such things from those that provided good for people; they just didn’t follow the thread of thinking that led to Aquinas and Locke who logically determined through a spirit of benevolence the goodness of human existence and the natural rights that provide for its self-preservation.

Although Taoism, originating in the 6C BCE, was well known by scholars in the West by the 8C CE, and may have had some influence on Aquinas and Locke who were very learned men, the development to the thesis of natural law and rights for human beings, while having many contributors, is principally to their credit.

It is here though where we come to the conundrum about power in human society; essentially, the question arises as to what is reasonable for humanity to invest in the power of governance. If we are to judge solely on the thesis that power corrupts, then we should eliminate all power, including governance.  Anarchists do use that line of thinking in a compelling way, until you then ask who will stand against evil; anarchy doesn’t address this issue as it takes good men to stand together against the evil of power, which is a logical contradiction to the proposition of anarchy.  Understand that the word anarchy itself is misunderstood and abused; it is derived from Greek meaning without government, not meaning chaos and disorder. The problem is that without some societal level of organization, how are the depravations of power to be avoided?

It is to that question that political science is primarily dedicated; how to construct a governance that will defend society against power, the source of evil itself, without empowering that governance to do so? As evil arises not from any consequence of nature, but as the casual will of the human mind, any governance that can be trusted to respect and defend natural law and rights must address the problem of eliminating, or at least limiting to the best of its ability, the will to power. That is a high standard of benevolence for human achievement, and as sacred a matter of trust for people to place in their leaders as there can be; it is not a “necessary evil”, but a necessity of self-preservation, and therefore if achieved, something good.

What is considered by men of good will to be the best instrument of governance in modern times that respects the natural law and rights of humanity is the US Constitution. It has been flawed with the absence of liberty for all by tolerating slavery, even though later amended, and does allow certain things that enable power to the abuse of natural law and rights, but it was intended to be limited in its provision for power in governance. As its prime author, James Madison said “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” He simply understood the dilemma about power in that providing for it presented the possibility for evil, while not providing against it did the same. It was on this basis that he constructed the many separations and balances of power in the effort to limit the government to only expressed powers, depriving it of any rights, and reserving all rights to the people.

While it has worked comparatively well in that regard, meaning relative to other nations, it is indeed a living document providing for amendments, some good and long past due, some bad and contrary to the intent of the original. What Madison and other Founders could not construct against was the potential for that insidious will for power even in the very leaders we may elect to government. Ultimately, plans only work to the extent they are believed in; the question then has to be asked to what extent Americans believe in their government, meaning do we still trust it?

That is a constant reasonable question because of the very nature of governance being empowered. So then, having found the source of all evil, where does America stand today as a society governed by the laws it created to protect its very existence against the depravations of power? If we consider the fact that we have devolved into polarized power camps, competing “democratically” for who’s in charge, and consequently becoming more and more a nation of men and not of law, we are not standing in a good place.

By law here was always intended to mean one law for all, but it now has become laws that favor one group over others, or against one group at the expense of others. Such laws are therefore immoral as they represent the very abuse of power that is the cause of evil. The great French political philosopher Frédéric Bastiat coined the phrase “cruel alternative” when such laws are created, presenting people a dilemma that “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.” That was never the intent of our constitution, which was the preservation of liberty for each individual in order to best serve natural law and rights.

Why did we the people fall for the same evil as those that govern us? Why did we lose our faith in our own natural human rights to not only be coerced in to the submission to power, but engage by joining the combating power camps? Consider a question asked by the French political scientist who traveled the early 19C US, Alexis de Tocqueville: “If one admits that a man in his full power might abuse his adversaries, why not admit the same of a majority of men?”

The corruption of our political institutions from the limited government of a Republic to the calls for greater “democracy” manifests again this insatiable will for power, the root of all evil. As Tocqueville points out, it doesn’t matter with power if the abuser is one or is many, it is power itself that is evil. Tocqueville was writing from observation, as was Aquinas and Locke. Are we ignoring the obvious because our eyes are wide shut, or because we are drugged with the intoxication of power? Is it us against “them”, whomever they may be, and if we all act together, we will hold the power over others?

We can’t blame the times we are in as an excuse for the reliance on power and the evil it has brought us.  We have the will found in our minds to either embrace the source of all evil and or deny power over our fellow man. Agreed that these are very trying times, and while I can’t recall where I read the insightful observance of Abraham Lincoln, or if I have his words exactly right, but they are well worth considering: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”


After all, when you get down to the essential human experience, like Billy Joel said, it’s simply a matter of trust.

“In God we trust, all others pay cash.” Jean Shepherd

I first read this line, not from Jean Sheperd’s famous book, but from a fortune cookie. I thought it was a very humorous and timely coincidence as it was shortly after I came back from Europe during the turmoil created by Richard Nixon when he took the dollar off the gold standard. I was caught with dollar denominated travelers checks in countries whose trust in the dollar was sorely shaken. It seemed that overnight what they perceived as the last great money was divorced from the very source of its being, even though the reality was that it had happened decades before. I paid dearly for that perception as the exchange rates and fees soared. It was not a pleasant experience but a great lesson in the meaning of trust.

My friends told me to read Sheperd’s book, which I did; it wasn’t really all that great, a collection of fictional stories the author had previously told on radio.  I subsequently learned that the title was in fact not original as it was a borrowed phrase commonly used in early 20C America about the lack of trust in credit and checks. It was a play on the words “In God We Trust” found on US currency starting soon after the Civil War, both on coin and paper; it’s still used today, just take out any money on you and there it is.

But what does this word trust actually mean? What is the concept behind a word we use so often in our lives and in so many contexts? What is it about this word that carries such a sacred respect in human relationships, whether personal, commercial or political?

Basically it comes down to faith in someone else to do what they say they will do based purely on what you know from prior experience. This means that trust has to be earned, not taken for granted, but built on actions, not just words. That kind of experience forms a bond, and we call that trust.

This applies in the context of all human relationships, and is the essence of how trust is built. A cop trusts his partner because they’ve been through experiences where they each had each other’s backs, with business partners who have weathered the unknowns of enterprise, of husbands and wives getting through the good and bad times together, and of citizens united in the history of their nation’s trials to survive whatever the world throws at them. The common thread here is that you can rely on each other to remain loyal to one another because you have created a bond of trust.

That is not some vague or esoteric concept, it is an existential reality based on actions, not words.  You know it and rely on it not because someone says so but because someone does so. Nothing is more sacred in human relationships, no matter your race, color, creed, politics or economic class, simply no matter what.

So why is it now that there is so much distrust in our culture and society today? Well think of the opposite of trust, and the logical conclusion is because our faith in each other has been betrayed; the essence of human experience is now fear and hate, hardly conducive in creating good faith in each other, in building that bond of trust. However, it works just fine in polarizing Americans in to opposing camps; the result is the inability to look beyond differences in order to find common cause.  This has happened before in our history, and it ultimately led to the Civil War. 

Up until recently, this was a “culture war”, facilitated my failed politics and news bias, exponentially accelerated by the technology of social media. We drowned out the opposition, even going so far as to violate our own heritage of free speech, casting the “opposition” with toxic labels, drowning out all those who we found tainted with an irredeemable sin of being different.

Then the inevitable happened.  First we saw the destruction of our cities with riots, burning, looting, armed conflict and death. We thought things couldn’t get worse, but then yesterday happened with an assault our own government, the Capital of our country, a violent riot over the outcome of an election.  We are stunned, sickened, confused as to how such a state of affairs in the world’s oldest Republic could come to pass.

I don’t say this callously, but really, what did we expect? If we come to a state of distrust in each other, then we come to a point where hate and fear break the bonds that tie, and that break as we have seen throughout history turns violent. Today we hear all about the search for those to blame.  Trump is an easy target, and despite his empty words today, deserves no respect from any American, as he was the match that lite the fuse.  However, Trump, while the immediate cause with his rants about voting fraud, is not the real cause, but a result of a trust long gone.

It’s like looking at a great tree hundreds of years old felled by lightning, and finding that its heartwood is a rotted core, the lifeblood of its existence succumbed to its own destruction. Think carefully before you dismiss this as anything less than true, and then think of your fellow Americans and ask yourself why, from whatever political or social or cultural beliefs you have, you fear or hate those that don’t share them. Consider if you support any form of censorship against whoever expresses contrary beliefs or repression of any protest against your point of view. If you find that you support such things, then understand you are in breach of good faith and lack the trust in liberty that should be our common cause.

Hopefully the nucleus of your own personal lives remains in a state of faith in that essential trust, but unless you’re living under a rock, you can’t avoid the lack of trust there is in our society, including in our government. The word polarization is more a result than a cause; you have to first define the reasons for such a phenomenon before you can point to the cause, and without doing that, we can’t get back to a union of common cause where we can trust each other regardless of our race, color, creed, politics, economic class, simply no matter what, no excuses, just good faith and respect for each other based on what we do, not what we say.

The violent riots in our cities and the recent attacks on the nation’s capital with their destruction of life and property attest to this basic lack of trust. This goes back long before Trump.  While he took advantage of this lack of trust, he himself was a result, not the cause. In truth, he is so shallow a narcissistic moron to be the cause of anything, a product of the horrors of distrust developed over time.

Remember Trump’s taunts about the “Deep State” and his pledges to “Drain the Swamp”?  Those are not new buzz words coined by his campaign speech writers; they’re terms used going back at least a century ago. Consider all the lies perpetrated on Americans about why we should get involved in foreign conflicts like the Great War, Viet Nam, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya….and who knows what’s next. Consider the fallacies about the creation of the Federal Reserve that funds these atrocities through slight-of-hand financial engineering, defrauding Americans of their wealth.  Consider the great social enterprises of the “New Deal”, the “Great Society” and other such boondoggles that have wasted our resources. Consider the “Quantitative Easing” that financially engineered our wealth to the already wealthy, the cronyism of the marriage between business and government; what betrayals of trust!

No, Trump was a result, a demon created by betrayal, and that demon then played Americans in to believing that he was a savior form all that, while in reality he was just another charlatan selling the same old trash, an elixir to cure all simply because we should trust him; empty words, with the only action being a reaction of violence, and with bad people of both sides.

So how do we fix this absence of trust? No more words, we need action, but before action, we need the right ideas on which to act.  Do we have that, not just in the new administration, but in ourselves to stop doing the same old thing, over and over again, voting in the same kind of politicians who keep selling us ideas that we should know are so ludicrous, so fundamentally flawed and contrary to every tenet of liberty and justice?

It is far harder to build trust after a betrayal than when first starting on any kind of relationship.  Take for instance a fiduciary relationship, such as what the US government is supposed to have with its citizens. It is a unique relationship in that the trustor and the beneficiary are one and the same, i.e. the American people. The trustee is the US government. Without going into all the various facets of this relationship with the Federal Reserve, US Treasury, Congress, etc. suffice it to say that by any standard of performance of fiduciary responsibility that trust has been betrayed.  We, the people of the US, are in debt that exceeds that of any nation in the history of the world. Our currency over the last century has been devalued to the point that it now takes a dollar for what a nickel used to buy. The financial and monetary manipulations of government have created a huge wealth and income gap favoring the elites of corporatism. If such things happened in the private sector, we would see headlines similar to the Madoff scandal.

Take the trust we place in government to act in the best interest and wellbeing of its citizens and in good faith among nations to respect their sovereignty and explain then the endless wars killing so many of our youth and innocent civilians of the countries we attack. How can such inhumanity not be a betrayal of trust?

Consider our constitution and the oath those in government take to support and defend it, and then look at the brazen violations by our elected officials and you should not wonder at the loss of trust Americans fell about their government.

What we need from our future administrations is not just an assurance that we can rely on them to act in good faith to restore our trust in government, but actions that show the character, ability, strength, and perseverance to restore our confidence that each and every individual American, regardless of race, color, creed, politics and economic class, will be treated the same, with respect for the liberties guaranteed them under the constitution; that is the bond that creates the trust needed for a nation to be at peace with itself. After all, when you get down to the essential human experience, like Billy Joel said, it’s simply a matter of trust.


“I was educated once; it took me years to get over it.” Mark Twain

I was educated once; it took me years to get over it.” Mark Twain

Back in 1970 Ayn Rand wrote an article that I kept with me for all these years.  In fact it was that article that convinced us to send our children to Montessori nursery schools, and we can thank her for having that influence on our lives, benefitting our children enormously.

The article was published in “The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution”. It was entitled “The Comprachicos”, which was a borrowed term from Victor Hugo’s novel “The Man Who Laughs”. The background to it is very disturbing, recounting the “child buyers” (literal translation) of the 16C to 18C who bought children for the purpose of disfiguring them for the amusement of royalty in the carnival shows of freaks in European courts.

The analogy was to “Progressive” educational methods that do the same to a child’s intellectual and psychological development. The article goes on in a very scholarly and informative manner about child development, and well worth reading for anyone concerned about early child development and education, especially new parents.

It is extremely relevant to today; when you read it, be aware that the terminology may seem current, but this article was written in 1970. While I have enjoyed Ayn Rand’s novels, I find her articles far more informative and inspiring, and this one is really top shelf. I love children more than anything (except my wife of course – just in case she actually reads my blog!); they possess that wondrous spirit of the magical question “why”, as everything is about finding answers because they know nothing, but want to know everything; no filters please, no dogma, no agenda, just existence. What a beautiful human spirit to possess!

Unfortunately that precious human quality of early development is the least appreciated in modern public educational systems. In our schools today, children are not to be educated, but indoctrinated. This move toward political agenda’s is manifested so perversely in the curriculum recently adopted by California for K-12 kids that would teach them such things like capitalism is bad because it is an economic system that provided advantages for Jewish and Irish immigrants at the expense of Native Americans, and other such racial nonsense.

It ignores of course the fact that the reasons for the main Irish immigration, representing half of all immigration from 1840 to 1860, was due to religious persecution, political oppression, and near starvation. For Jews, the major immigration was late 19C and early 20C, the primary cause being religious persecution with horrible pogroms in Eastern Europe, and in post WWII as refugees from the Holocaust and war torn Europe, and some later in 1970-80 due to similar issues in the USSR. That these immigrations were caused by the prospects of the advantages of capitalism is such a twisted racial thesis that should be dismissed as a disgusting product of truly twisted minds.

This new California curriculum has as a core mandate what is referred to as the “Four I’s of Oppression”, i.e. ideological, institutional, interpersonal and internalized. Its stated goal is to “…build new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes collective narratives of transformative resistance.” What does that even mean? Such an obvious politicized agenda adopted at the expense of vital early child development is perverse to a benevolent and productive educational experience parents should expect in order that their children are provided the necessary tools to succeed in life. Sorry Mark Twain, but this kind of flagrant indoctrination of children may very well be too much for them to get over. Not only will it deprive them of a sound education, it will mentally debilitate their common sense and ability to reason through the many issues that will arise in their lives.

Aristotle tells us that the purpose of education is to develop reasoning. The new California curriculum is loaded with terms so apparently contrived as to be inexplicable, but obviously intent on blatant indoctrination, sentencing children to an even worse educational experience than California provided previously. Take for instance the fact that the average fourth grader’s reading level is below first grade. Current educational philosophy is to find emotionally safe places free from the curse of logic, an instrument of oppression. Which philosophy would you want the people educating your children to embrace? Common sense tells us why we are where we are, but it takes fear to prevent us from doing something about it, fear that to object will expose us to the thought police and make us a target for ridicule as oppressors, racists, fascists, or whatever verbal weapon of identity politics is the flavor of the month, and eventually we would be “canceled”. 

Consider this one passage of Rand’s article that really informs us of the insidious nature of educational thought like California’s new curriculum: “But the modern heirs of the comprachicos are smarter and subtler than their predecessors: they do not hide, they practice their trade in the open; they do not buy children, the children are delivered to them; they do not use sulphur or iron, they achieve their goal without ever laying a finger on their little victims.”

Remember again that this article was written fifty years ago, but how prescient and applicable to our current dilemma. California’s new curriculum is more obviously twisted that earlier versions with similar intent, but they too had similar results than what the new will undoubtedly produce. Consider as an example a well-known public figure in Congress, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. When questioned about how, given the egregious level of debt the US faces, she intends to fund the many social programs she advocates, she proposes the printing press as an unlimited source of wealth. While it only takes common sense and a modicum of historical awareness of where that would lead us, this product of a Boston College education lacks the common sense to understand you can’t spend from an empty pocket. By the way, she received a degree in economics, at a cost of $75K/year; this does not speak well of Boston College’s educational ability to develop reasoning in their students.

We find ourselves in such a state of affairs that our governments expect us to accept tribal collectivism rather than developing reasoning and a sense of self awareness in our children. This is a cruelty so perverse as to subject children to indoctrination rather than education. It is presented as a “progressive” agenda by a political class that oddly enough then complains that they are unable to understand why more and more citizens are opting out of public education in favor of private or home schooling, demonizing them as ignorant or narrow minded. It is their miseducation that creates such an elitist world view, denying any support for such options like vouchers and charter schools; you can always count on compulsion as their ultimate resort.

Their behavior reminds me of George Orwell’s adage about such people: “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.”


“Simply put, unsustainable debt is helping to keep too many poor countries and poor people in poverty.” Bill Clinton

It is remarkable that Bill Clinton, who was feared to be just another tax and spend Democrat, was the last president to lead Congress to enact legislation that not only reduced our debt and balanced the budget, but produced a surplus. When he came to office, few thought he would embrace Reagan’s economic policies, which even Clinton’s immediate predecessor, George H. W. Bush, failed to do. Reagan was not even as successful as Clinton in addressing what was at the time considered to be unsustainable debt and the most pressing existential crisis.

Through tax and welfare reform, free trade policies and deregulation, fiscal and foreign policy restraint, from 1998 to 2001 Clinton’s administrations produced a balanced budget, surpluses and reduction in debt, and not surprisingly, sustained economic growth, increased employment and reduced poverty. The unfortunate but ridiculous episode of his sexual misconduct and impeachment is more representative of political pettiness and tabloid sensationalism than anything else. I do not say this out of partisan loyalty as I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, just an objective observer of lessons we should learn from history.

Further, considering the fact that Clinton was faced with a Republican controlled congress, the fact that he was able to accomplish these things is also testimony to his trade craft in avoiding gridlock. That has not happened since then, and the lessons learned were all but forgotten as we can see by the various crises that have occurred since.

Since then we have engaged in never ending wars with one ill-conceived military intervention after another, bloated entitlements, regulation of just about every facet of the economy, created the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, instituted trade wars with tariffs and sanctions, shuttered our economy and increased debt to the worst level of any nation in the history of the world; not exactly a great legacy to leave our future generations who will inherit the sins of their predecessors for many years to come.

The Federal budget deficit for 2019 was nearly a trillion dollars; for 2020 it will be more than three trillion dollars. We can point fingers all we want about things like the pandemic, tax cuts, bloated entitlements, etc. but we elected Trump who spends like a drunken sailor, and we then we elected Biden who promises to spend even more. We did that, not some Russian hackers or a viral disease, we get to empower those that do these things to us; we have met the enemy and it’s ourselves. 

I say that because I suspect the answer to this question is an emphatic no – would the American people elect a politician today who promised to do the kind of things that Reagan and Clinton did?  Would we elect a president who would cut entitlements, pull our troops out of foreign countries, propose a Federal Reserve leader who would reduce its balance sheet, or even better, dismantle that tool of monetary corruption altogether, abolish fiat currency, push for legislation, or even better a constitutional amendment, for a balanced budget and fiscal restraint? Think about that and ask yourselves if Americans today are willing to accept what it takes to get off the addiction of debt.

Clinton knew that debt is the worst poverty and that you can’t spend your way out of a recession or borrow your way out of debt. He rose above partisan politics to do the right thing.  True there were also things he did that caused the housing bubble that some economists say was one of the main contributors to the 2008 Financial Crisis, but the way that crisis was addressed only made things worse; Quantitative Easing is just stealth financial engineering to spend our way out of a recession and borrow our way out of debt, a policy that saw the slowest recovery since the Great Depression; inexplicably, we are still doing it.

Due to the ever expanding money supply with the freakish creation of fiat currency, and the expanding issuance of US Treasuries, much of it held by foreign governments who are not exactly friends of America, the US debt is now approaching thirty trillion dollars. So when you hear that the Federal Reserve intends to keep interest rates repressed for years to come at less than one percent, think about who is really the beneficiary of such accommodation? 

It obviously benefits those in debt, and none more so than the US Government. It also provides the private sector easier access to the credit market by facilitating loans, which in effect increases debt for business and consumers. This is how the financial virus of debt spreads through the economy until we reach a crisis as in 2008 with massive defaults causing credit markets to shut down.  Consider what the government’s solution to that crisis was with Quantitative Easing and other accommodations to actually provide even more liquidity for even more credit availability. In effect, their solution was to do more of what actually got us in to trouble to begin with.

While you also hear that inflation is low, even if you believe the big lie that it’s only two percent, do the math and you know that when the Fed says it will not consider negative interest rates, we are already there. Now consider all those retirees on fixed income from pensions and savings and you have a glimmer of how destructive such manipulations are.

So how is it that we now find ourselves in even a worse situation than what Reagan and Clinton faced, but solved and not that long ago? There was a time when Americans made fun of countries we called Third World and Banana Republics; today we can look in the mirror and ask if we have the hubris to say such things anymore. We have become a caricature of what we used to disdain, yet we are apathetic to the problem and unlike Reagan and Clinton, cowardly avoid the solution; kicking the can down the road will only work for a while and only as long as there is road, but what happens when you run out of road?

Where are the leaders who will get us off the debt addiction and on the path to recovery? No one appears on the near horizon; while Democrats rightfully blame Republicans for their wretched fiscal stewardship of our treasury, they come to power with a platform to do even worse. How is it lately that our political system comes up with a government whose solutions are to expand the problem? Is it the system, or the culture of its participants? I believe it has become more of the later and that presents even a greater problem we need to solve.

So the next time you hear a politician proposing anything that creates debt, remember Emerson’s advice that “A man in debt is so far a slave.” Well what then would you call a nation in debt?


“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tsu

The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. Mark Twain

Twain was not saying that we should welcome death, but that obsessing about it to the point of fearing it more than living makes you fear life itself. He encourages us to live life to the fullest so that we have no regrets, not about what we have done, but what we haven’t.

Have we become fearful of living? Is the threat of death that is pushed in our face daily with this pandemic, or the ever present political polarization, identity politics and cultural fragmentation made us so fragile that we rail against anyone who does not think, or even worse, does not act as we are told? Do we place more value on directives issued by bureaucrats, intellectual elitists and media gurus than the right of everyone to express their own opinion, or act in what they consider their own best interests?

Yes, with a pandemic wear a mask in public, keep clean, avoid large gatherings, and do so because it’s hygienically intelligent, but not because of fear. Don’t get caught up in identity politics and cultural right think out of fear, that opioid preventing awareness that you are your own person. This is true regarding all aspects of living, as only you can, or should, make decisions about what is best for you. It is said that love and hate are two sides of the same coin; wrong, its fear and hate. Courage and love are two sides of the same coin, and if you have courage, you will find joy in living, not fear of death. Fearful men live without joy, and therefore without love.

An old Chinese proverb wishes that we live in interesting times, and we certainly are as we have reached a cultural crisis. We are at a point where we need to understand the existential differences between the philosophy of liberty and that of its opposite, the philosophy of fear, and its other side of the coin, hate.

We need to not only understand this, but to make a choice. You need to be awake to that, but not “woke”, that pitiful zombionic state of “progressive” culture that seeks a “protected space” from anyone who may think or profess ideas contrary to our own, or worse, live them. This is the culture of fear, which leads to the hatred of all those that, for whatever reason, do not share your beliefs, and have the audacity to live their own lives. They are to be called out, ridiculed as ignorant products of an oppressive society, unworthy of consideration and therefore “canceled”. What malicious mind conceived the idea that a human being can be canceled? What ever happened to the love, peace and harmony of the 60’s and 70’s? OK, so I’m showing my age, but at least I’m here to do so.

Please, trust me on this, I’m not pleading that we all just get along, I’m saying we damn well better if we wish to live in liberty and peace. It’s not all that hard, we used to do that. We respected diversity of beliefs, free expression of ideas and alternative life styles. We valued individuality, actually practiced live-and-let-live, be cool, Let’s-Go-Mets!….well maybe not that, after all I’m a Yankee fan.

But seriously, where did we crash over the guard rails of a civil society?  When did we go tribal in our societal behavior? Well ask yourselves this question – are you an African American, a Latino American, an Asian American, a White American….why not just plain American? Are you a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender….how about none of your damn business! Even more, are you a Republican, Neocon, Democrat, Liberal, Libertarian, Conservative, Progressive, Socialist, Green… about this one – do you love your country, and the Republic for which it stands?

Who are you anyway? Are you afraid of admitting to any of these labels?  Maybe that’s a good thing; after all if you’re not a can of soup or a box of detergent on a grocery shelf, then who needs labels? Consider what Mark Twain once said: “The two most important days in your life are the day you’re born and the day you find out why.” Well you don’t need to think about the day you were born, you had little to do with that, but do you know why? I think it’s just to be whoever you want to be, not to live life in accordance with the opinions or wishes of others.

The alternative is you become an intruder on the rights of others, a parasite of their industry, a master of whom you make a slave to your own welfare; whichever it is your fear of living on your own brings you to the sociopathic alternative of a culture of fear. Oddly enough, it is a state of mind wherein you are more frightened than you would ever be harmed, more a victim of a fearful imagination than from any injury in reality.

Liberty offers no protected space, no guarantee of success, no avoidance of reality.  It offers only what you already have, and that is yourself. Liberty only guarantees an opportunity, and that is to make the most of yourself as you can.  There is no equality to anyone else (except under the law) as comparisons are not what liberty is about. It is an absolute; you are absolutely on your own to be whatever you can make of yourself.

There is a catch though and that is with liberty comes the responsibility of the consequences of your actions.  Does that put fear in your heart? Why, because you could make a bad decision? Well that’s life, and you have to live it to enjoy it, but so what if you make a bad decision, its called experience; good news, with experience you get to make good decisions. There’s a great life lesson that experience is better than education because with experience mistakes are all your own, but with education you carry the mistakes of others, at least until you get over them. Remember that thing called courage?  Well it’s not the mistakes you make that matter, it’s the courage to learn from them and move on.

Make no mistake about liberty, it’s damn hard to live life being yourself, but understand that the most common cause of depression is not being who you are. Depression is a state of despair, of fear, and that’s no way to live. Some people who suffer from depression do so out of fear of what others think of them, but then consider which would be better, to be hated for who you are, or loved for whom you’re not? What a horror it would be to live your days not knowing who you are.

There’s another thing about liberty and being who you are that may put fear in you, and that’s the fact that there are no guaranteed plans for success since you have no way to know what the future may bring. Man is a social animal and will always have exchanges with his fellow man in all aspects of life, but there’s one immutable guiding ethical principle, and that’s to never initiate aggression. In order to be yourself, you must respect the natural right of all men to own themselves, their life, their liberty and whatever they make through their industry. Everything else comes from this essential natural law, but not a plan for success. Life is a journey in to the future, which by definition is unknown. Funny thing about the future, unlike the past it never ends, and that’s what makes it so wonderful. So be a fearless traveler, you have nothing to lose and all of life to gain.

As Lao Tsu said some two and a half millennia ago “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”