Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Highlight

First things first: thanks to all who shared their insights/thoughts/concerns/opinions on the government assistance posts. If nothing else, it seems those who hadn't thought about it before now are and those who have might think a little more. 12 people have taken the poll in the upper left hand corner of this page and it seems 3 people have moved to the right of the line and none have defected to the dark side. Not a bad result as we celebrate Memorial Day and honor those who have died protecting the liberty which allows for such dialog.

Also, it has become apparent there should be a way for those want to carry on a dialog but not for the world to see; so, I've created an email account: Cyber.Commorancy@gmail.com. If you go to View My Complete Profile under About me, there's a link that says Email and that'll work too.

We had a good Memorial Day - thanks to the Cashman clan for their hospitality towards the Roberts fam. The highlight of my day was putting my own spin on Lydia's hair. She has a lot of it and for the first time I took advantage of it. As I was styling her hair, we started talking about when Beckett visited and Linds spiked his hair and it was cool. I mentioned to Lydia that Beckett might be a little jealous of all this spikeable hair.
She said she doubted he'd be jealous, just impressed, though most her Roberts uncles might be jealous of all her spikeable hair.

I couldn't help but laugh.

She'd been hittin' the bottle pretty hard over the long weekend

Laughing at her mom's reaction to this new, edgy style

Let us pray her head is never as bulbous as her dad's.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Stampin' mad: Still Stampin'

Opinions concerning food stamps/Medicaid/WIC exceed those of piercing the ears of babies and the joy of Xboxing as expressed by Capt. Von Trapp. Who knew? The post also registered the best name-calling comment ever: I'm a Cyber Commoron. Well played. Even Hyrum Steed can’t top that. (Natalie, you could use that as the link for my blog!)
In the midst of writing the previous post it was apparent a follow up post would be needed; Paula emphasized this as the comments piled up, concerned about the brash approach and potential ramifications amongst friends and associates. The comments (if you haven’t read them all, I highly encourage you to) were insightful and branched out from food stamps, engendering questions – which comments, by the way, are much appreciated – regarding other forms of government welfare.
Ames Family and Anonymous: no worries about arguing. I see nothing wrong with an honest one. Today’s world treats the expression of a firm opinion or argument as taboo because it might offend; hence, many important topics aren’t discussed at depth and we sojourn on in shallow, meaningless drivel. Dissenting (sincere) comments are more than welcome. Just another reason I’ll always allow anonymous comments, never go private or delete a comment (unless it’s crude, vulgar, or damages my ego).

Now, on with the show.
The use of Medicaid and WIC (Women, Infants, Children) usage when young and in school was mentioned several times. I’ll give my opinion on each separately, starting with Medicaid/Medicare.
Health insurance provided by universities are generally expensive and what is covered still puts a lot back on the individual; in case of emergency you could be staring at a $10k-plus bill. Those types of bills are no fun when it’s for something you plan on, much less when it’s unexpected.
That being said, my thoughts about Medicaid are the same as food stamps. My reasoning for placing the two together is because they are built upon the same premise –it is acceptable for Party C to take (forcefully) from Party A and distribute to Party B as C feels appropriate. The fundamental approach of the system is a corrupt (meaning “to alter from the original or correct form or version”) form of welfare or charity and my its very nature encourages abuse.

An indulgent personal experience.
Shortly before being married I had an emergency appendectomy. I had no insurance, was recent college grad and had been working for about 3 months (I was a contract employee and expensive health care was my only option, which I opted out of); much to my chagrin, the hospital bill and associated fees were in excess of $22,000. I didn’t qualify for government aid because I had a job, which I thought ironic since every paycheck had money taken from me for Medicare/Medicaid. Many stressful days, letters, phone calls and negotiations later I ended up with bills totaling just under $5k.

I had the best intentions to stay debt free – never had one once of debt up to that point and not because of mommy and daddy’s pocketbook – but a service was rendered in which my life was saved. What right did I have to expect someone else to foot this bill? Or to have the doctors and nurses to eat it just because I wasn’t planning on it? Nope. I’m not entitled to that just because I exist and happen to be honest. So it was necessary to do some footwork and work the bill down and then pay it.

Serious introspection would show misplaced priorities. Some people are willing to take on debt for furniture; many will take on the beast when purchasing a vehicle; I know of no one who paid (their own) cash for their first home. None of these things are essential to our survival. So why is our expectation to have the government prevent us from debt when our lives are preserved with surgery or medical intervention or when a beautiful child comes into this world? Should we only go into debt for what we want, not what we need? Such expectations are naive and indulgent.

Regarding WIC…toss it in with the other two. Or place it gently with them. Either way that is where it belongs, for the premise upon which means are provided is corrupt and encourages abuse. Instead of going to and expecting our government to fund the bill, how about family? Parents, brothers and sisters. If there is not sufficient in these resources, what about the church? Having served as the Executive Secretary in our last ward, I know first hand that food orders and assistance is provided. Generously provided.
While serving in this position, there were many who asked for help when they were spending money on cable TV, movies, eating out, clothing from places other than Goodwill or DI, pet food, etc…and were hesitant to give up these things to make ends meet. It’s would be like me refusing to give up my Xbox Live membership while there are bills I can’t pay. It’s self-centered and arrogant.
I’ll have to disagree with Zach’s (tongue-in-cheek) comment – the Constitution makes no provision for keeping up with the Jones’s. Nor should it. When entitlement of comfortable living becomes our norm, stripped away is choice and accountability, replace with the chain of bondage to our provider. Sounds like the plan of someone a long, long time ago. And we know how that ended. There’s only one Provider I want to be indebted to for my existence.

And there your have it: my opinions regarding government assistance.
Let it be clear I have no problem with charity or welfare when administered correctly. Careful reading of both posts will reveal no opposition of giving/getting help. Never. I get significant tax breaks with of the percentage of my income that goes to charity. I’m not bragging or trying to be self-righteous. It just needs to be clear I give and give without compulsion.
What makes me Stampin’ Mad is the pseudo-charity created by compulsory means – forcing A to give to C, who then decides how it will be used for B. True, honest, sincere welfare is created by individuals who want and are willing to give, not forced to. In this way both the giver and receiver are blessed temporally and spiritually. And this charity does exist. (Some examples.)

Here’s the real question:
Why turn to government for assistance? Why turn to a source that cares and knows nothing about you instead of turning to those with our best interests at heart and love us? Probably because government is faceless; the government won’t see us sitting outside the bishop’s office and leaving with a food order; because we don’t have to face the government at family events.
Speaking personally, it requires a lot of humility to approach those who know me best and love me with my hand out for help, admitting that I’m not making it my own. Something faceless and removed is easier because there is no connection, no bond. But maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, if this gets any longer no one will read it.
In summation, those commenting who have used Medicaid or WIC, I don’t think you’re manipulative or lazy. I wanna make that clear. If you were, I think there’d of been CURSING IN ALL CAPS in your comments.
My hope is everyone will reexamine where we go for help and what the cost is. When we go to those who give willingly, the only thing we surrender is our pride and vanity; when we go to that which gives through force, we lose our freedom and our agency. Is it even possible a system that forcefully takes from one to redistribute to another can be good and moral? Hopefully, if situations arise in the future where help is needed, this corrupt system will not be the source we turn to.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Stampin' mad

Time for a little ragin’ about the welfare/social state of our nation Readers beware: you are entering a logic and reason zone: check your emotional, bleeding-heart ways at the door. Buckle up, kids. It's gonna be bumpy

The AP released a news article about the plight of individuals who use food stamps as a means to feed themselves are having problems because the price of food is going up. The article starts by featuring Danielle Brown, a single mother of two (ages 1 and 3), who says “Ain’t got no food left, the kids are probably hungry” as she shops with her new allotment on the first of the month. She reports that the money for food ran out two weeks ago.
This is tragic – I mean, what meager, insufficient amount of money are we, the tax-payers, giving to this woman so that it is gone after just two weeks. $100? $150? $200 at the most, right? Wrong. Danielle Brown gets $312 a month. For food. And she blows it in just 2 weeks. I’m not very good at math, but if we say Danielle needs money for four weeks of food a month, then she apparently deserves $624 to feed herself and two child under 5 years old!
Also featured is Lynda Wheeler, another single mother with a 14 year old son and a 2 year old daughter are in a similar pickle – running out of money by the 15th – with $281 a month. So Lynda needs $562 a month, apparently. Here’s a picture of Lynda buying packaged meals at One Stop Food & Liquors. A couple observations:

  • Lynda doesn't look like she ran out of food 2 weeks ago
  • If you are running out of money (or someone else’s, in this case), why buy instant/pre-cooked dinners?
  • Going out on a limb that One Stop Food and Liquors isn’t the best place to get a deal on groceries.
What the h#@! is going on here?! Seriously. Both of these women get more money to provide food for less consumption than my household budgets for food in a month! Why in the world should one adult and two pre-k children burn through $312 in a month, much less two weeks! AARRGHHHH!
This is ri-goshdarn-diculous. The real kicker, what really gets under my skin is that the attitude is not one of thanks or appreciation. I'd be ecstatic if someone gave me $300 a month for food. But none of that here. Somehow, because they breathe, they are entitled to have other people supply for their needs. And they need more.
Heaven forbid a person has to get up off their obese behind, get out the door and WORK. O, the degradation of having to work two jobs! How dare anyone have to work more than 40 hours a week to make ends meet! I'm pretty sure it says in the Constitution says that if a high school education and 40 hours a week doesn't allow me to have digital cable, a cell phone and a constantly stocked fridge, it is the duty of the government to step in and take care of me.
What bull.

I’m about to make a statement – a broad, insensitive, generalizing, stereotyping statement. So, if you are nervous, please navigate away from this and come back in a week or so when something else is posted. Here it goes:
No self-respecting person who is not disabled, physically or mentally, should rely on our government to provide for their daily needs. Those who do are leaching, lazy and dishonest people who have no moral fiber, no pride in themselves and no sense of self worth.
I will never – never – walk down that road.
For those who now (if you didn’t before) think I’m arrogant and condescending, let me legitimize your thought: You’re an idiot. Now you have just cause to believe I’m arrogant and condescending.
The reason I will never accept government money for my daily needs is because if I do, I am condoning the act of taking by force (taxes) the property (money) of another to supply for my needs. I would be saying I am entitled to your money while you are not. Why? Because I’m alive, that’s why.
Someone tell me that's not arrogant and condescending.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Small and White

About three weeks ago Paula and I watched The Sound of Music. I realize this admission challenges my masculinity, but before any smart comments are left, I have two things to say: first, I'd rather be known as one who watches The Sound of Music than The Hills or similar dross; second, it was a Sunday and in the Roberts household we try to keep it mellow on the Sabbath. Growing up, movies such as The Sound of Music or The Ten Commandments where the only approved television viewing and as I’ve reached adulthood, I’ve tried to maintain a level of television abstinence on Sunday, though occasionally there's been digression - particularly during football season.
Anyway, there’s this song on there called Edelweiss and it’s nice, though incidentally it is not German or Austrian in origin and was only written for the movie. Here are the lyrics:

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white,
clean and bright
You look happy to meet me.
Blossom of snow
may you bloom and grow,
Bloom and grow forever.
Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever.

Now, many of you might be wondering “Why is he posting this?” That’s good, because the plan was to lure you in with this off-the-wall intro.
The other week my Xbox 360 was returned – a moment of great joy in my life as it has been out of commission for a few months. It was a glorious moment and I have been enjoying the sound of music that meets my ears every time I turn it on. (You Xboxer’s know the sound of which I speak.)
As I’ve reflected on our reunion, my mind drifts to Captain Von Trapp and I raise my off pitch voice with his rich baritone in tribute to my special small and white emblem of joy:

My X-Box, My X-Box,
In the evenings you greet me.
Square and white,
Clean and bright
You look happy to meet me.
Hours of fun
Under moon or sun,
I could play forever.
My X-Box, my X-Box,
May my thumbs tire never.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

R vs D: The Intro

A whopping 16 people had the time or the inclination to let their opinions be known on this little corner of the world (wide web) regarding the preference of a Democratic or Republican (not talking political parties here) form of government. I appreciate your votes and the candor in some of the comments I’ve received over the past couple of posts. Dave, Nerf and Shantay – appreciate your thoughts and questions on the subject.

Paula said this post is too long and no one will read it. I bristled at that comment, and rebutted by quoting Jefferson:

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

There’s always time to play Xbox, watch stupid reality shows, read silly, fluffy books and whatever other frivolous things we do, but not to think and carry on dialogue about our rights. Much to my chagrin, Paula is right. (Not that I mind her being right, I just wish I could put more stock in us as Americans.) So, I’ve decided to break this down like I did the super-post at the end of February/first of March: This introductory post will house links to each section of my discourse on the difference between a Republic and a Democracy, and why I feel a Republic is infinitely superior to a democracy as a form of government.

While these posts won’t be as wildly popular and acclaimed as the previous – and more frivolous – one, I feel it necessary to make some mention of a couple things:

What the United States is (or was designed to be)
Fundamental differences between a Republic and a Democracy
Our Founding Fathers’ view
What the purpose of government should be (according to me)

Before proceeding, I feel that to add some clout to the arguments I’m going to make, I need to address my paragraph about MTV’s “The Hills” in the post in which the poll originated. First, I think this show is just plain ridiculous and annoying. I LOATHE it… LOATHE IT! The intimate knowledge of the show and its characters I displayed is simply a cut and paste job from the website, with a change in narrative from 3rd to 1st person. Hopefully I can now be taken a bit more seriously.

R vs D: And the winner is...

Like the ugly duckling not knowing if he was a swan, or the Sharpton/Jackson hordes not sure if Barak is black, there is confusion regarding what form of government the US was designed to operate as. A couple clues: “…the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands…” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

The framers who literally offered their lives to establish a government that would preserve individual liberty (more on this later) framed a Republic. There you go kids, we (are supposed to) live in a Republic – specifically a Constitutional Republic.

R vs D: Same diff? Hardly.

A democratic (again, the form of government, not the party) form of government is a ‘Rule by Omnipotent Majority’ in which the rights of the minority do not exist. This is true whether it be a Direct Democracy, or a Representative Democracy.

In the direct type all decisions are reached by a majority vote (of at least half-plus-one). Under a Representative Democracy the people elect representatives to the national legislature and it functions by a similar vote of at least half-plus-one in making all legislative decisions. In either form the majority has absolute power.

Law is whatever the government determines it to be. The restraint is upon the individual instead of government. Rights are privileges and permissions granted by government and can be rescinded by government because the governing body is that of the majority.

Freedom in a democracy is contingent on the people knowing what freedom is and consistent application of it; if the people – more specifically if the majority – don’t know and understand this, a democracy becomes as oppressive as a dictatorship or monarchy.

A republican (still talking about government, not party) form of government is a constitutionally limited government of the representative type, created by a written Constitution which is adopted by the people and changeable (from its original meaning) by them only by its amendment. An important aspect (and what separates it from a democracy) of a republic is that it is designed to strictly control the majority and protect the God-given rights and liberties of the individual.

Law is whatever the charter or constitution determines it to be, and not subject to majority vote (though to ratification). Restraint is upon the government instead of the individual. Rights are not seen as privileges or permissions granted by government and cannot be rescinded by government.

Republics tend to be free, not because of elections by citizens but because they are bound by a constitution or charter, which limits the power of the governing body. That people vote for representatives has nothing to do with freedom. It is the logical rationality of the constitution and people’s willingness to live by said constitution that maintains freedom.

R vs D: Fathers Knew Best

Those men who revolutionized government in the late 18th century were vehemently opposed to the idea of democracy because when a man has power he inevitably becomes corrupt; the same is true of the majority. James Madison knew this and pointed it out in The Federalist:

"As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government (that of a Republic) presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self government; and that nothing less than the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another." (Emphasis added.)

So, to decipher the big words and break it down 21st century style, on the one hand we should be suspicious of man because of his inclination to immoral actions; on the other hand, the is much about man that is good. A Republican government takes into account both sides more than any other type of government because it takes into account that men, by nature, crave power and is incapable of governing themselves without restraint.

While democracy is an effective tool in ridding a people of a more evil and crushing regime, it is a means to opening the door to a free flow of thought rather than an end for governance. This is because a Democracy is nothing more than a tyrannical form of government, except instead of one man and his ilk issuing decrees and stripping away individual liberty it is the tyranny of the majority trampling the freedoms of the minority under foot. Said John Adams:

"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide."

R vs D: Summation

Government is a tool for protecting individual liberty. That is all. It should not ever grant liberty or rights because it DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER TO. It was understood during the inception of this country and should be understood now that our individual rights – life, liberty and the pursuit (not the guarantee) of happiness – are unalienable. That's my interpretation of Thomas Jefferson's assertion:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights…”

John Adams expounded upon this notion:

“You have rights antecedent to all earthly governments; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe."
Only the Supreme Being to which the founding fathers looked has the ability to grant rights and liberties - not Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, not John McCain or George Bush. The Constitution never even hints that government is a granter of rights. It is not. It is the protector of rights.

On this premise, I assert a Republican form of government is infinitely preferable because it has the tools to protect liberties of the individual while withstanding the swirling tide of opinion and subjective truth. A Democratic form of government is less desirable because it does not have tools to protect individual liberties or withstand the swirling tide of opinion and subjective truth; for whatever the majority determines is right is right and can be made law, even when it imposes unfair and unjust burdens upon the individual.

Therefore, at the risk of sounding sanctimonious, I reiterate by a pledge of allegiance to the REPUBLIC as one nation under God (for the rights guaranteed us by the Constitution are not granted by man, but by Him; for if granted by man they can be taken away by man) to protect and preserve the liberty and justice for the individual, which individual embodies the whole.

Great articles:
Are we a Republic or a Democracy?
? Democracy? What’s the difference?