Combatting the Allure of Socialism

Every parent, who has a child of middle school age has probably had at least one conversation with that child about the value of hard work and money.  The conversation probably resulted from a request for money.  Somewhere in the course of this interaction, most parents utter that time honored cliche “there is no such thing as a free lunch”.  Most children react with shock and utter disbelief that their needs are met with this perceived hard hearted and ill considered response.  You as a parent didn’t address the need and responded with the harsh reality of the outside world.  Well I am reminded by this conversation of a recent travel experience.

I recently returned from a trip to the Dutch Netherlands in the Caribbean.  If you are geographically challenged as I am, you probably don’t know the location of these picturesque islands.   They are nary a stones throw away from Venezuela.  This time we visited the island of Bonaire.  We were on a cruise and since I am always such a stalwart explorer, we opted for a simple bus tour.  Our guide was pleasant middle aged woman, who like most in the tourist trade was anxious to extol the virtues of her home.  The residences on this island for the most part were primitive by United States standards and many looked like little more than tin covered shacks.  Our guide informed us of the importance of the tourist trade and that most things were brought in and little was produced locally.  Still everyone we met seemed happy, but most with the exception of the merchant owners seemed to lack ambition and initiative.

We toured the city and listened attentively to our guide as she spoke of her beautiful little island.  Aside from the references to the weather, which was beautiful, the theme of her talk centered around what the government did for them.  If there was a wayward juvenile. there was a special government accommodation with coaches and counselors.  She talked on about programs for the pensioners and the unemployed.  What did I glean from this.  This socialistic state trades  personal freedom for financial security.  I was aghast by the number of times I heard and you go to the government and they provide this or that aspect of these peoples daily lives.  What I saw was an island with an ideal climate and unlimited trade opportunities with a people that were imprisoned by their government dependency.

I was left with a certainty that this nation would not be the next hot cauldron of innovation.  This is not because of a lack of education.  You see they can travel to the Netherlands for schooling.  The government provides education.  There simply is no urgent need to achieve among the populace.  The guide said it over and over again during our tour.  The government provides _____________.  You fill in the blank.  As a result, these people will have what is provided to them and no more.

There truly is no such thing as a free lunch.  The parent’s response to the middle schooler seemed harsh to the child who wanted something he couldn’t have, but was in fact an accurate portrayal of the world outside the home.  It was also sound financial information.  There still is scarcity in the world and in our country.  It is only through work, that value is created and the individual and the society as a whole are improved by that work.

While the United States has has continually led all nations as the world’s true economic powerhouse.  There have always been those advancing the position that more should be provided and paid for by others.  These newly provided services are to be paid for by forced redistribution of the economic pie.  This system would be dramatically different from our current system in which individuals acting independently and in their own self interest within a free market structure determine what is produced.  The value of the goods and services produced is priced based upon the principles of supply and demand.  The government in this socialistic system would be the collector of that portion of income that the ruling majority believes to be in excess of what the individual needs, then the collected spoils are to be redistributed to those that are determined to need it.

There are many problems with this thinking.  First, in a vibrant economy it is the surplus funds, which provide the financial capital, that ultimately results in innovation and creation of more goods and services.  Second, the pricing of labor based upon supply and demand insures proper flow of labor and encourages movement of human resources, to those industries where there is the most demand .  It also maximizes an individual’s choice.  An individual in this system can choose where and how much and what kind of works he wishes .  limited only by how much he needs.  He determines all his own choices and the system reacts providing individuals with economic incentives to insure satisfaction of demands.

No individual entity can collect the enormous amount of data needed to make these economic decisions nor provide the freedom of choice for an individual that a free market provides.  Government should insure freedom of opportunity.  and not be responsible for the confiscation of wealth and wealth redistribution based upon the whim of the majority on any given day.

Democrats today seek to redistribute wealth based on what they believe is needed by the individual and what they believe is excess wealth.  Decisions about wealth confiscation and distribution in Socialistic economies are made with insufficient information.  Decisions are frequently made at the whim of the ruling majority based upon its beliefs,   These decisions lack the information and flexibility necessary to accommodate the rapid shifts of both capital and human resources necessary to grow an economy and produce the goods and services desired by its consumers.  The result of these ill advised decisions is malinvestment.  Malinvestment creates overproduction of some goods and services and scarcity of others.  The socialist economic system also limits an individual’s choices resulting in worker dissatisfaction and ultimately lower productivity.  The socialist system promises financial security to the individual, but in fact only insures an individual receives his piece of  a static or more likely a declining economic pie.  There truly is no such thing as a free lunch.

So when you have that conversation with your child about that free lunch,  impress upon your child that all work has value and is needed even if it is unpleasant to him or her at times.   It makes the worker a participant in the greatest and most free economy in the world.  His contribution helps all of us grow the economic pie and provide free choice for all.  Remember there truly is no such thing as a free lunch!


Why Traditional Graffitti

The first post for Traditional Graffitti was published on primary election day in New Hampshire.  Traditional Graffitti is not intended to be just a political commentary site.  I began writing this blog because I like many Americans am disgusted by the direction of our country.

I am recently retired, but while working, I had the privilege of attending a training. It was intended to assist me in understanding the different perspectives of the generations that make up our modern society.

This training had an unexpected side benefit for me.  It reinforced my belief that across racial, economic and religious lines we shared common values, especially those, who were fortunate enough to be born in the 1950’s and 60’s.

Our instructor was a very patient African American gentleman born in the 1950’s.  I listened attentively to his presentation and was  fascinated by the topic and robust discussion that ensued, so I engaged him in personal conversation during the presentation breaks.  We had discussions about our youth and how we interacted with our neighbors and friends.

Surprisingly, I found our experiences to be very similar.  We spoke of leaving the house in the morning and enjoying outdoor games with friends until the evening meal then returning to play until the street lights were turned on. All of us knew, when the street lights came on, we all had to return home.  Our neighbors knew all of us and were not timid in reporting any personal transgressions to our parents.  Trust me, being reported by a neighbor for unbecoming conduct led to an undesirable final outcome.  One which every child knew to avoid or quickly learned to avoid.

Corporal punishment was practiced by many parents during this time.  This level of discipline was reserved for conduct, which demanded immediate intervention because it was socially unacceptable or immoral or in some instances dangerous.  Physical punishment was not intended to be abusive, but to impress upon us that an immediate change of conduct was required.  We all quickly learned its purpose.  Do you know it worked so well that after a while the mere utterance of a simple phrase like “Wait till your Dad hears about that” invoked the same deterrent response and behaviors changed as if by magic without the need to strike, plead or bribe.

Conduct that was unacceptable or immoral was easily identified by all.  Kids knew it.  Parents knew and even the neighbors magically knew the moral code.  There were 10 primary rules, whether we were Roman Catholic, as we were, or hailed from a protestant denomination as many of my neighbors did or were non church attendees.  The rules applied to the reverent and the casual and even the non church attenders.

Divorce occurred and we had childhood spats, but they seemed less frequent and much less violent Childhood fights seldom involved anything that might be considered a weapon.  Parents were encouraged to stay together for the sake of their children.

Yes, we were taught rules and they applied to adults and children and they formed a code of conduct and the code did not require that prescribed conduct always make the actor happy.  Concern about others was built into this code.   Why am I talking about this?  It is not because I seek to impose my religious views on you.  As I told you we had many religious groups in our neighborhood and some non religious individuals.  What is my point in sharing this long winded tale?

We neighbors shared a common point of reference around these 10 rules, commandments if you wish and all neighbors enforced the code to varying degrees and all understood they had personal responsibility for their conduct and a duty to assist others in acquiring and following the code. (sometimes it seemed that I was assisted more frequently than I like to recall)

What was the reward?  What prompted individuals to subscribe to a code and act in a manner that didn’t always result in conduct that made the participant feel happy or self satisfied?  Why would anyone voluntarily without government enforcement choose to live by such a code?

The first reward was of this system was civility.  Neighborhoods were not always conflict free zones, but there was an actual sense of community born of personal responsibility.  We were a classless society in my neighborhood at least among the children.  If I had a patch on my jeans because of rough play, no one cared.  No one had four hundred dollar shoes.  We all wore dime store shoes.  When I talked with my instructor that day. I discovered the same rules applied in his neighborhood that applied in mine.  We also discussed how through social engineering it has changed.

I suppose to a great extent it is our generation that is responsible for this breakdown in our society.  We decided at some point that individual happiness was more important than following that simple 10 rule code of conduct.  We even took it further we pushed to change the rules in the name of forming a great society and by our actions slowly facilitated the destruction of the nuclear family.  We authored important sounding documents that spoke of universal human rights that filled volumes, but these collaborative efforts failed to  achieve the clarity of those ten brief rules.

Oh, but as a result of our attempt at social engineering, today we are so much more tolerant.  Now instead of living by a code voluntarily accepted by all in the neighborhood, we enlist the force of a vast paternal federal authority to make us not only accept conduct, which once was unacceptable, but now to promote that once offensive conduct and celebrate it as a new more enlightened normal.  It doesn’t matter that many of us still silently consider much of what is being celebrated to be deviant behavior.  We simply are uneducated and not aware of the benefits of this new modern world.

Our government distributes posters and “enlightened literature” cautioning us against our overly judgmental foibles and instructing us how to act properly, so we too can celebrate and rejoice in this new more tolerant world we have painstakingly engineered.

Our children are taught that all types of family arrangements must be celebrated even if studies suggest they are not a healthy choice for raising the young.  We live in a society designed for true moral equivalence.  No way can be better than any other and all are deserving of equal respect and laud.  To think otherwise would be “heretical”.  After all these new arrangements make the participants happy, at least until the arrangement becomes personally unfulfilling or inconvenient. Statistics about societal problems produced by these transient family units, well they just don’t matter.  These findings are inconvenient impediments to the great new social message and interfere with a participant’s immediate social or sexual gratification.  The loss of a few million children to adverse outcomes is just a small sacrifice at the altar of secular humanism.

After all our schools must be sanitized and remain free of all judgments.  There can be no pressure to assimilate.  Instead of a societal melting pot, teachers now speak about our society as a glorious green salad.  Organized religion is now deemed to be the source of all historic evil.   All mention of it is to be banished from the public square and certainly deserving no place in our superior enlightened society. A mention of religion might be offensive to some one or some group. What are the consequences of this new enlightenment?

We have neighborhoods, where strangers live next to each other without social interaction for years.  Moral decay and a general lack of civility now serve as the new norm and replace the antiquated code of conduct.  If you don’t believe in the new code, you are just a hater, misogynist, bigot or worse a bible thumper intent on imposing your outdated beliefs on the enlightened.  Yes, welcome to our new tolerant society.

We have replaced public discourse with safe zones, so no one has to listen to another or be offended by their moral rants.  How long will it be until this hate speech is punished by mandated retraining?  For now we are satisfied to merely take your goods and ostracize you for the sin of intolerance.

Why am I incorporating all this in a story about common generational values?  It is because we have lost our moral compass and veered far off course as a nation.  We aren’t more tolerant.  Sure we no longer have blue laws.  (Anyone remember the horrible days of Sunday store closings and Sunday family dinners?)  We now condemn the very core values that built this society.

But we must be tolerant and tolerance means acceptance and celebration of these new norms. Unlike the old norms, which were voluntarily adopted by the populace, these new norms must be interpreted and enforced by the power of a central government.  So the voluntary code of the neighborhood is replaced by a tyranny of the new enlightened majority.  Long live the New Enlightened Order!

Any mention of God or morals in the public square is now a violation of the establishment clause.  The phrase separation of church and state does not appear in the constitution.(feel free to look it up, if you doubt me) The first amendment, which was intended to be used as a shield to prevent the government from establishing a state religion is now being wielded as a sword to deter the free exercise of religion by its people.

Don’t worry though, there will be no establishment of any religion because the exercise free speech and especially religious speech in a public setting might offend someone, who disagrees with you, so the government will make certain you remain unoffended free from exposure to this type of moral corruption.

So in my training I learned we once had a common moral code.  I learned it crossed racial and religious and ethnic lines and now I have been told how foolish and unenlightened anyone who clings to that code is.

Our President in a rare moment of candor referred to some Pennsylvanians and I guess me and those of my generation as “bitter clingers”.  He thought he could slip this one by because he was among the new faithful in California and his comment went relatively unnoticed.  His intended smear has become a label I wear as a personal badge of honor.  I as those Pennsylvanians am not ashamed of my upbringing, my religion, those 10 rules I strive to live by or my traditional nuclear family.  Yesterday I watched a political party celebrate socialism,wealth redistribution and the final legitimization of this government enforced new order.

While I say thank you to the democrats for sharing their enlightened perspective with me.  I intend to remain a “bitter clinger”.  I am one who adheres to those 10 rules.  Hey Democrats. at least one of those antiquated rules addresses not coveting thy neighbors goods.  Another rule commands individuals not to steal.  Forceful taking even by the government, to equalize or redistribute goods or close an income gap is still just good old fashion theft.) Just because I have less doesn’t mean I should use the force of government to take something from others.

I believe free will is still a universal God given right.  If my creator allowed me free will, even though my exercise from it might cause me to deviate from his divine plan, then I think my fellow countryman lack the moral authority to take that right from me!

Think about that, New Hampshire Democrats.  Maybe it is time to learn a basic tenet about a free people from this sorely uninformed ,religious, “bitter clinger”.  Free people need equal opportunity not free stuff redistributed from the bounty of others.  Remember New Hampshire residents “Live free or die”.

All these memories and words because of a reflection on how generations have different perspectives.  Let’s do this again tomorrow!

Off My Soapbox

The New Hampshire Primary is the first true test of voter preference in this presidential election cycle. The primary is not the same complicated insider driven game that occurred in Iowa.  Iowa was just a pregame festivity with delegate selection as a sideshow.  New Hampshire is the true opening kickoff of a four quarter brawl.  It is my belief that  New Hampshire is only the kick off and that is all it should be considered.

This election cycle presents a unique set of circumstances for the Republican Party.  It is unique because it features a self funded candidate, who can continue deep into the primary season, even if he fails to meet media expectations.  It is unique due to the anger expressed by the Republican electorate in the preprimary polls.  It is unique because there are candidates with a chance for success, who are outside of the Republican ruling cabal.  Finally, it is unique because of the world situation, which now more than any time in the recent past, requires a strong principled and conservative leader, who can reorient the country.  A leader who can move our country away from government domination, which has been the hallmark of the last eight years.

There are many Republican candidates in this field, who only give lip service to conservative values and individual liberty.  Governor John Kasich from Ohio, who imposed an extension of Medicaid upon his state via a state board after the Republican dominated Ohio Legislature chose not to expand it, is one such example.  After his legislature rejected Medicaid expansion, the Governor, rather than searching for a private sector solution to expand healthcare, opted to use the federal funds available under Obamacare to expand Medicaid . This action, which many believe will subject Ohioans to increased future debt, expands once again the role of the federal government within the state.  I do not doubt the Governor’s good intentions nor his personal moral code, but his lack of imagination and his willingness to throw in with government expansionists rather than do the difficult work of crafting a free market solution to expanding healthcare is distressing.  It is especially distressing from one who touts his reputation as a budget balancer and Conservative small government advocate. I can only conclude from this action that he is neither.

There are two other Governors, who are also vying for the Republican nomination with questionable Conservative leanings, when it comes to individual liberty and small government advocacy.  I must confess as of the date of this writing, I am unconvinced that either would champion smaller government and individual liberty.  This at a time, when adherence to uncompromising principled traditional values are what is needed to reverse the damage done to liberty by our current President.

Governor Christie, a blue state governor ran to embrace President Obama after a storm devastated his state.  No one faults the Governor for looking out for his constituents, however many election observers believe the Governor’s perceived coziness assisted in the President’s reelection bid resulting in four more years of declining liberty.  Perhaps less public begging was in order at such a critical time in the electoral process.  Additionally the Governor’s actions demonstrate a willingness to run to the federal government as a first resource in times of crisis.   One must also wonder how many other principles he must have compromised to garner favor as a “Conservative”, with such a liberal electorate and left leaning media.   The Governor has to be a born compromiser or a “person who gets things done” to use his terms in order to survive in such a hostile political environment.  I don’t believe he fits the profile of a tough freedom fighter.  I believe him to be the same old same old. An establishment sympathizer, who compromises principles  to be elected. His act of begging for funds at election time revealed his true character.

Jeb Bush has some conservative credentials.  He displayed some admirable qualities when he was the Florida Governor .  He has been out of office for some time but, I believe he still carries the Republican establishment banner.  Mr. Bush’s recent explanation of his Common Core stance is the typical response of the Washington ruling class.  He supports  Common Core’s educational standards, but is opposed to Washington’s involvement in the program.  He is far too quick to embrace ” a comprehensive solution” rather than the true state by state experimentation that will lead to the best result winning the day.  I certainly can not at this juncture with all his old money establishment ties support him as the Conservative freedom fighter’s choice for president, but he may do well in “Live Free Or Die” New Hampshire.

I do not expect a ground shaking election result in New Hampshire.  It is the best opportunity for the three Republican Establishment candidates to exceed their national poll numbers.  While New Hampshire’s state motto is “Live free or die”, New Hampshire has voted for the Democratic Presidential Candidate in five of the last six presidential election cycles.  New Hampshire should not be seen as a state quick to side with the advocates of limited government, who are the best guarantee of continued freedom and economic prosperity.  Recent polls indicate the democratic primary favorite is self proclaimed Socialist Senator, Bernie Sanders.  Hardly a living embodiment of the state motto.

Please remember New Hampshire that government, no matter how well intentioned, ultimately rules by the force of law and the enforcement of its regulations. Government is by it’s nature coercive and limits individual freedom.  It limits individual initiative and if involved in the economy, attempts through its rules to pick winners and losers.  It is when unrestrained  a foe of capitalism.

Support for the Democratic party line is not support for traditional conservative values.  The Democratic party is the party of Obamacare, wealth redistribution and national division.

If you are a conservative, freedom loving American, who is concerned about helping his neighbor, as I believe we all should be, then government should not be the vehicle employed to accomplish that end.  True advancements in healthcare, increased employment and national unity are not accomplished by the use of government force through laws, but are the products of the labor of private citizens.  Churches, mutual aid societies and businesses are the best organizations to achieve these goals yet maintain individual liberty.  Freedom is not always the most rapid path to a goal, but it is the least oppressive and ultimately the best accepted way to achieve a desired outcome.  It is because freedoms solutions are chosen not imposed!

So I watch with interest the outcome of both sides of the primary election.  I do not believe New Hampshire should severely limit the scope of the national debate nor the Republican party debate.  It should not by itself dictate the ultimate Republican Party nominee.  The issues of today are far too important to be decided by a small group of northeastern voters alone.

Still, choose wisely New Hampshire!  Remember your state motto, when you enter the voting booth today.