Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

“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.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.
August 28, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr. has always been a hero of mine. He was a man that put his principles above everything. I truly believe that he meant his words to apply to all of mankind. I believe that if the tables had been turned and he would have been born into a world where anyone else was judged by the color of their skin he would have stood up for them, even if he wasn’t categorized with them.

Today I was going to talk about a couple of experiences I had this week: one with the wife of a deceased WWII veteran and another with an Iraq War hero. I will have to get back to those because this topic has been eating at me.

We have made enormous progress since King’s time. I would even say that we are at the verge of living his dream. I would never compare what we are going through now with the atrocities faced during the civil rights movement. In this case, I truly hope history doesn’t repeat itself. With that being said, there are some areas that need serious improvement.

I’m not talking about the way we think and react in social settings. I know that unfortunately there will always be differences, misunderstandings, and stereotypes between races. What I am talking about are the public and corporate policies that propagate the judgment of others by the color of their skin.

I know what it’s like to be turned away from a job because of my skin color, even though I am best qualified. This may seem trivial to some, but it is an experience that first heightened my awareness of race issues in America. When I was 17 I applied for a job at a retail store and got an interview. I nailed the interview, and was even told that I was a shoo in. I have to say that I appreciated the manager’s honesty when she told me that she got word from corporate that if there were any acceptable black or hispanic applicants that they had to hire them to meet their quota. So, I’m still not sure if this was just a corporate policy or if there was some affirmative action law in effect. Who knows, it may have just been an effort to create a more diverse appearance for marketing purposes. At any rate, the manager was very frank with me by letting me know that I was the most qualified applicant and her choice for the job, but she couldn’t hire me because I’m white.

I thought that I would never be subjected to any sort of racism worse than being turned away from a job. But I was wrong. A large part of my job now is government contracting. I routinely turn down proposals that are the most qualified because they are not from minority owned businesses (and minority has a very narrow definition). I have now been on the other side of the coin, and it feels much worse. I hate racist policies. They degrade the people they are trying to elevate. They are telling them that they aren’t good enough to make it on their own so they need the government’s ruling hand to interfere.

You could probably also guess that another reason I brought this subject up is the recent nomination of the self-proclaimed racist, Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. In her own words, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.”

Moreover, it sickens me that no one will stand up to her. She has no chance of being judged by the content of her character (or lack thereof) because she has already been judged and deemed flawless because of her race (and gender). I think that the way she ruled in the New Haven Firefighter’s case should disqualify her from being a judge let alone on the Supreme Court! Here is a link to the left’s defense of her on this case, no matter how you spin it, it’s still a bunch of bunk.

On the bright side, to finish this post on a positive note, my recent outlook has been very optimistic. I have faith that good people everywhere will begin to unite and draw the line very clearly where they stand. At that point the “tent” under which they stand will grow bigger, not because the good people compromise their values to meet others half way, but because they stand firm until others recognize that they share the same values and then they will flock to the tent regardless of the color of their skin. In that day, Martin Luther King’s dream will be a reality.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

You Are Not Forgotten

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots...

-Thomas Jefferson, 1787

More than 1.3 million Americans have fought and died on behalf of our country during the past 233 years. Except for Afghanistan and Iraq, those wars have receded into the pages of history books. But our country was not built on history books. It was built on the backs of men and women who believed in the fundamental principles of freedom – principles for which they were willing to put their lives on the line.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery while TDY to Washington D.C. Buried there are more than 300,000 Americans who gave their lives defending the freedom of others. It is just one of many cemeteries around the world where we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

On Memorial Day, we owe these people more than a day off of work, a backyard barbecue, or a day at the water park. I plan to stop wherever I am and whatever I am doing on Memorial Day at 3 p.m. for the National Moment of Remembrance. I hope you will too. Take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices made and the lives lost in the name of freedom.

Our history is full of stories of ordinary people who displayed extraordinary heroism. No doubt our future holds more amazing stories of heartache and heroism. Some of those stories are playing out now in current conflicts around the world. These are stories that bind us together, as one, under the Stars and Stripes of the United States of America. They’re the stories of real people whose loved ones suffered and mourned. Let us never forget to honor them all.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How much is freedom worth?

We are all born with certain inalienable rights. As Thomas Jefferson put it,
"The evidence of [the] natural right [of expatriation], like that of our right to life, liberty, the use of our faculties, the pursuit of happiness, is not left to the feeble and sophistical investigations of reason, but is impressed on the sense of every man. We do not claim these under the charters of kings or legislators, but under the King of Kings."

Let me stop here and say something about our founding fathers. I hate it when people take a quote from the founding fathers and change the context to support their view. I mean, anyone could take any side of a political argument and find a quote by Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, or some well-known, well-regarded historical figure that supports their way of thinking. It is also ridiculous to try to pin labels on founding fathers like “liberal” or “conservative.” I am extremely grateful for the founders of this great country and I believe that they were inspired collectively and individually in the matters of government. With that being said, it is also important to understand that the founding fathers, in spite of all their wisdom, were not perfect. They had many good ideas, but also had many bad ideas, and for the most part, they even recognized that. I could go on about the dynamics of the personalities that led to the formation of our government, but I have already strayed too far from the point I want to talk about. It suffices to say that a quote from a founding father should never serve as a means to prove a point in and of itself.

We are also born with the ability to give up our inalienable rights as we desire. I have always believed that the human soul desires freedom. There is nothing more precious than our individual freedom to live our lives according to our own free will, to suffer the consequences of our own bad decisions and to reap the rewards of our own skill, industry, and righteousness. There isn’t anything I would trade for my freedom. I don’t want to trade my freedom for money, I don’t want to trade it for health, and I don’t want to trade it for security. I would rather die than live all of my days in bondage.

We are all in bondage to a certain degree. I have come to the conclusion that there are issues on both sides of the political aisle that put us in bondage. I think that some of the lengths we are willing to go to in the name of security take away our freedom, but more specifically, the recent push toward socialism. Lately, I have posed this question: does every soul really desire freedom?

The policies that our government has been implementing these past few years have been slowly reducing our freedoms like a frog having the heat slowly increased until he’s boiled. Years from now, I may find myself extremely grateful for Barack Obama. He was the one that came along and cranked the heat up so fast that the frog finally leapt from the water… I hope. At least I hold this optimistic view based on the faith that the human soul has a desire to be free and that people will start to wake up. The policies that Obama, Reid, and Pelosi are currently implementing are the antithesis of individual freedom. Are there people who know and understand this but would like to go ahead with it anyways? There was a war in heaven over whether we should be allowed to have our agency. Are we still fighting that battle today?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oil Feeds My Children

“OIL FEEDS MY CHILDREN” was the bumper sticker on the SUV in Houston, Texas, where 68.7 percent of the job market comprises oil and gas exploration and production. Clearly in a statement meant to appeal to the emotional side of the energy debate, the driver of the SUV missed the mark. You see, to the people that the statement is directed toward, the real emotional issue is the children that are killed every day by the effects of oil on the environment. On the other hand, why does this gas-guzzling SUV driver even have children that need fed? What gives them the right? Their offspring are just as guilty of carbon output. Besides all of that, they should have known that they aren’t allowed to appeal to emotion on that side of the argument. The sticker was probably a lie anyways. I mean there is no way that oil literally feeds their children, unless they’re talking about fish oil, which I hear is good for your brain, but their kids may need a little more variety in their diet.

The truth is that if you have children or if you are a child, you are also fed by oil, of this I have no doubt, but this fact alone will never detract from the evil reputation of oil. I would like to thank Lewis and Josiah for bringing up this topic while we were in Houston for Dane’s wedding. As tempted as I am to comment on how cute Dane looked, I’m afraid I’ve turned into the guy that would rather solve the world’s problems, or at least the country’s. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with all the facts, semi-truths, lies and conspiracy theories behind energy. This issue is really much simpler than anyone thinks. The bottom line is that the principles of capitalism work every time they are tried. The problem is that we aren’t letting that happen. I mean let’s just say that the government is the answer, let’s pretend that the government really wants us to get off of oil and into alternative energy. So they first stop oil exploration, then tax the crap out of oil and use the revenue to invest in alternative energy. This will make oil prices go up and thereby increase demand for alternatives. They would also propel propaganda about the evils of oil and the environment and start a “green” movement, but that’s a topic for another post. So far, it seems like it just might work, assuming of course that the angels up there in Washington will be honest stewards of tax payer money and make sure every dime goes to alternative energy. Wow, I said that with a straight face. If this doesn’t sound absolutely insane to you already, there’s a good chance you are college educated and a better chance that you consider yourself in tune with pop culture. But even so, the government solution should start to raise the red flag in your mind in the next steps. As soon as we have made alternative energy attractive enough by vilifying oil, we can thank the government for graciously taking away the windfall profits from oil companies and all go out and buy our nice new alternative fuel cars. As soon as that happens, what happens to the price of oil? It plummets, but don’t worry, government will keep taxing it higher. The government has an answer for anything, including mandating the use of electric go-carts, and banning the use of oil. This isn’t that far-fetched, people. I would ask the important question, “at what point during all of this did we throw away socialism and leap to full-scale communism?” but I don’t think anyone cares. I’m not saying we need to try all-out unregulated mob-rule. I object to any corporate tactics which hinder competition. Which, by-the-way are also aided and abetted by the government.

Government does have a role though, it is to make everyone able to compete equally without cheating. Let's eliminate the monopolizing business tactics, let’s get the favoritism bought by lobbyists under control. Let's have parity and fairness. That all starts with us rooting out the weasels in government, also a topic for another post.

If we could be fair about the competition, America can and will find a solution that is BETTER than oil, not just artificially better based on what the government imposes, but actually BETTER. I mean we’re the country that put a man on the moon, we didn’t say half way is good enough as long as we keep the competition from making it.

One thing that our government has lacked for a long time is faith in US. I mean how many opportunities have been squandered with these bail-outs?? How much hope has been lost with the recent taxation?? How much prosperity has been squandered away in the devaluation of our currency with the money-printing?? I think we are long past due for the government to step aside and make way for the people. I for one will be picketing against socialism on July 4th. My only plea for you is next time you start a sentence with “what we should do is…” consider if you are looking for a government answer or a real answer.