Saturday, June 23, 2007

Tax Law is Bad Law

This article was originally published on June 20th, 2007 at

Do you remember the story of Robin Hood? He was a hero to nearly every child. Why was he a hero? Remember he stole from the rich to give to the poor? We were always taught that stealing is wrong. What would make it right to steal from a merchant who had made his fortune honestly? Nothing. Ah, but we all know that’s not what Robin Hood was really about. He wasn’t about stealing from just any old rich guy and giving to just any poor person. Remember, he was an aristocrat before he turned to his life of crime. No, he was about fighting injustice. He was about stealing from the evil Prince John and his enforcer, the Sheriff of Nottingham, and giving to the down trodden citizens who had worked hard to try to make ends meet. He was about taking back the taxes that the government of the day had stolen and giving it back to the people who had rightfully earned the money. He didn’t steal from the rich and give to the poor, he recovered stolen treasure and returned it to the rightful owners.
In the early part of the twentieth century prohibition proved a boon for crime. Criminal gangs found that selling illegal alcohol to speakeasies and other establishments that catered to the populace’s demand for the intoxicating beverages was extremely lucrative. The money they got from this illegal venture gave them power. They were able to pay off the police, politicians and others involved in the legal system so they could keep and protect their territories. They used the force of the gun to keep other criminal gangs away so that they had a monopoly. Anyone that wanted the illegal goods would have to pay the price the gang demanded. They were also able to diversify into other services that there was a public demand for. They became involved in gambling and prostitution. They also began to shake down honest businessmen located in their neighborhoods. They would maybe scare them a little by breaking some windows or robbing them a couple of times, then offer them “protection” for a small service fee. Some businessmen resisted. They refused to give their honest, hard earned income to a gang of thieves. Some of these businessmen ended up dead to serve as a warning to others.
Which of the two above examples does the federal government of the United States of America remind you of? Some might believe them to be like Robin Hood, taxing the rich to give to the poor. I don’t see that happening. I’m not rich. I'm an honest, hard working man. I doubt very much that Robin Hood would rob from me. If he did, he wouldn’t get much. It seems to me that the federal government is robbing from everyone and keeping it for themselves. I’m guessing that if Robin Hood were around today he’d be robbing from the Federal Reserve and giving American citizens back the money which was taken from them. No, the federal government seems much more like the second example. They take money by force from the citizenry consisting of both businessmen and laborers to “protect” them from many perceived threats. If someone wants to keep their hard earned money for themselves and refuse to give it to the feds, the feds will try to “reason” with them through the justice system. If they still refuse to pay they will be threatened with kidnapping and forced imprisonment. If they resist this action and try to protect themselves, there is a good chance they will end up dead. If organized crime does that it’s called extortion which there are laws against. If the federal government does it it’s called collecting taxes.
There’s been a movie going around called “America, Freedom to Fascism” by Aaron Russo. It’s an interesting movie. In it, Aaron goes around asking to be shown the law that says one has to pay income taxes. Authorities are tested when trying to find such a law. Example after example are given in which the law is not found. He even documents an Illinois court case where a man is exonerated on tax evasion charges by a jury of his peers because the prosecutor refuses to show them the law that states one has to pay income taxes. This is all very interesting, but I say “so what?” Even if there is no law, what’s to keep them from writing such a law? It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that there should be no law, and there should be no income taxes collected. Extortion is extortion and should not be legalized. Bad law is bad law. A rose by any other name. If anyone is ever brought to trail for breaking such a bad law, the jury should find him not guilty. This is because juries do have the right to judge the law, no matter what those people running the legal system would have you believe. This is where the true power of the people lies, in judging such laws to be bad laws. All one has to do, one informed juror, is find anyone being tried for not paying income taxes not guilty. Such jury nullification is what brought about the end to prohibition. If this happens enough, those in power will figure it out and these taxes will be done away with. Neither money nor private property should be taken from people by force. If the federal government provides such great services then taxes should be voluntary.
Today, there is a brave couple in New Hampshire who are under siege. Their names are Ed and Elaine Brown. They have already lost their businesses to the feds for refusing to give them their protection money. They had a trail but were not allowed to present their defenses to a jury, therefore they stayed away from the courthouse and were found guilty in absentia. Now their housee is under constant surveillance by federal agents. They are trapped in their home and awaiting the next move from the feds. They are ready to die. These people have done nothing to harm another, nor did they steal the private property of another. They just wanted to keep the money they earned honestly. They just wanted to present one of a variety of defenses during their trail. They just wanted to be shown a law that said they were required to pay income taxes. They were not allowed to do any of those reasonable things. They should simply be left alone.

Building the Prison Planet

This article was originally published on June 18th, 2007 at

Ok, I admit it, I love Star Trek. I was only a little kid when it first came out. I used to watch it all the time. I’ve probably seen each episode two or three times. Even though it took place in the future, often times the show’s themes were pertinent to events taking place in the present. Other times the show was a vehicle for poignant social commentary. Take, for example, the pilot episodes. In them, Captain Pike (Captain Kirk was actually not the original captain of the starship Enterprise) is kept caged on a planet where he is forced to help play out in the fantasies of a beautiful woman. Even though his life in this place is pleasant, he struggles to escape. Toward the end of the episode, the aliens who have imprisoned Captain Pike gain access to mankind’s history. They are astounded to find out that humans have always abhorred forced imprisonment and slavery no matter how pleasant the circumstances. I don’t know if that’s so true anymore. As time moves on and technology advances, it seems to me that we are moving closer and closer to a societal prison of our own making and our own enslavement.
The operative word in the above story and the concept we must worry about is force. No one likes to be forced to do anything, or so one would think. This country was founded on principles that force should not be used against an individual so long as he is not harming or stealing from another. The founders of this country left us with a legacy called the bill of rights, the first ten amendments of the constitution which guarantee recognition of certain rights to each individual and act as a blueprint as to how the government can act toward those individuals. Without these rights we quickly become slaves, or at least we suffer from a form of slavery. As we lose our rights we are effectively being told what we can and can’t do, what we can and can’t think. As each of these rights is dissolved we migrate closer to imprisoning ourselves in our own country. Big brother is creeping more and more into our lives, monitoring our every movement, yet we say nothing for fear we will lose the comforts we have achieved. We let the police state take over in hope for a bit of security and begin to feel a creeping disquiet as more and more dissenters are charged with crimes and thrown into jail cells. Still, the majority remain quiet. Still, we seem to accept our slavery so long as it comes with a warm place to stay, a hot meal, and a glowing TV.
Where is this heading? How can this be turned around? Many of our fellow citizens will answer that we need this law passed or that regulation enforced. Some will blame immigration and others will blame corporations. Some will say we need more Democrats in power, or a Democrat for president, others will say it is the Republicans who will act as our saviors. What many people seem to fail to realize is that government isn’t the solution, it’s the problem. It’s the government that’s creating the trap we’re in. More of the same will only create more of the same. It’s time for us to try less government. It’s time for us to say no to more laws and regulations. It’s time to give more individual freedom a chance to succeed. If this is to happen, then people need to get involved.
Government is like a cancer. If it goes untreated and remains unchecked, it will grow its tentacles into all our systems. If you ignore it, it will consume you. In order to cure it, the patient most become involved in the cure at some level. He most at least acknowledge its existence. The people of this country need to stop being so apathetic. They need to activate themselves and become involved, even it it’s only a little bit. Talk to people. Let your feelings be known. Stop listening to and trusting propaganda and start researching a little bit on your own. What you find out may astound and amaze you. A little activism from a lot of people can go a long way. If the government realizes that the masses do care, and that they’re willing to do something about it, then it will start to shrink, it will start to relinquish its power, and it will return to the fundamentals set up for us by the founding fathers. If we continue to do nothing, to ignore the cancer and to maintain the status quo, I shudder to think of what may be in store for us.

Ron Paul's Candidacy and the Dream of Freedom

This article was originally published on June 18th, 2007 at

I have this dream. I dream that one day I will live in freedom. I dream that I will be able to choose where to spend the money I earn. I dream that I will be able to open a business without having to worry about paying the extortionists for protection. I dream that I will be able to write out my opinion and post it on the Internet without having to worry that some spy for a malicious organization might be “interested” in my work. I dream of living in a country where I don’t have to worry about coming home and finding my computer equipment gone due to legalized, unwarranted theft. I dream of living in a country where I can take responsibility for myself, where I don’t have to worry about some faceless government bureaucrat getting involved in every aspect of my life, from whether or not I have to buckle my seatbelt to what I can and can’t eat when I go out. I dream of a place where I can live out my life being treated like the adult I am. I dream of a mythical place known as America.
Everyday I wake to reality. Every two weeks Caesar takes his pound of flesh from my paycheck. Every year I have to report the money I have earned on the side to the IRS so they can take their cut of my money and spend it on a war I don’t support. Everyday I see stories that reflect the nation’s ills. I read news reports about the war, torture and death. I hardly watch TV news anymore as they seem to only report insignificant stories. They spend too much time reporting on Paris Hilton and American Idol and other celebrities which only serves to distract from what’s really happening in the world. Their talking heads think they can tell me how to think and feel. I used to listen to them, but no more. The cloak of legitimacy they once had has fallen off and I see them now for the propagandists they are. How is it we have come to such a point? Why is it we no longer seem to care about the rights we once cherished so much? How is it we as a people have allowed the government to become so invasive?
The events that have brought us to this point stretch far back into the past, some so far back that anyone who may have witnessed them is no longer alive. There are too many events to name and too many laws have been passed that have chiseled away at our freedoms, some of these laws many have even applauded. Once the events have taken place they are emblazoned upon out collective psyche and sometimes the truth behind such events can become obfuscated. Once the laws are passed they are very seldom repealed. All this history has brought us to this point. While history is an interesting study, it is of little help when trying to change things. A more pertinent question to ask is how do we get ourselves out of this mess we’ve created? How do we restore the rights we once enjoyed?
There are many answers to these questions. One answer is to work through the system. The problem with this has been that the vast majority of Americans seem to think there are only two political parties in the United States and that we must vote for someone in one party or the other or our vote is wasted, as I explained in an earlier article. If everyone who has grown tired of the shenanigans of these two parties were to vote for a Libertarian or other Independent candidate than changes might start to take place. It seems this will never happen because of an irrational fear that most people seem to have that if they vote for a third party their vote will somehow be wasted. This worry need not be of consequence anymore, for there is a candidate who embodies the dream of freedom and is a member of one of the two major parties, the Republican Ron Paul.
Ron Paul is a believer in smaller constitutional government. As a believer in the constitution, he believes in respecting the Bill of Rights which has been largely ignored and trampled by the current administration. Ron Paul would like to restore the integrity of the Bill of Rights and return the government’s respect for it. He voted against the Iraq war. He would like to abolish the IRS. He wants to return our lives to us. He wants to allow us to decide for ourselves how we should run our lives. He wants to take the government out of our personal affairs. Look into Ron Paul for yourselves, look up his voting record, go to Youtube and look up his videos, listen to what he has to say on a variety of issues, you certainly won’t see much of this reported on in the main stream media. They would prefer to ignore him, to have you believe he is a dark horse, a non-contender. Don’t listen to them. Support for Ron Paul continues to grow as his message continues to spread. It is a powerful message. You might not agree with everything he has to say, but his message of peace, liberty, freedom and individual responsibility is a far cry from the message of war, terror, fear and a heavy burden for the American people that comes from the other candidates.
A friend of mine once told me that he felt ten percent of the people were left, ten percent were right and the other eighty percent of us were somewhere in the middle. Ron Paul is the only candidate that shares the views of that eighty percent. He is showing more and more people that they are indeed Libertarian, even though they might not have known it. He has rekindled the dream of freedom to this country. He might not be able to single handedly change the system, but should he win the primary, and should he be elected president in 2008, it would most certainly be a step in the right direction.

Does Anyone Really Care About Global Warming

This article was initially published on April 16th, 2007 at

I watched a documentary the other day called “The Great Global Warming Swindle” from the BBC. The basic premise of the documentary was to show that carbon dioxide is not the main cause of global warming, that the sun’s energy output is, and it is not the threat that certain political interests would have us believe. The science of the documentary seemed sound and I would be hard pressed to argue against the data without more study. Much of what they said I was already aware of. They also showed how Al Gore had misused data to push a political agenda and a world government imposed solution. They discussed how certain scientists were included as authors in a United Nations report on global warming even though they had asked to be removed from the list of authors. They spoke of how they were not being paid by oil interests. It was all very interesting. They stated that there was no doubt climate change existed and that we were in the middle of it, the doubt was in what the main cause is. They gave me little reason to doubt them until near the very end. That’s when their true colors showed. They might not have been paid by oil interests, but they suddenly started advocating coal interests.
They started by appealing to one’s emotions by claiming that the very poor are suffering as a result of the global warming furor. They claimed that cheap sources of electricity were being kept from them through various international agreements. They gave the example of a medical clinic in Africa in the middle of nowhere which was powered using solar power. Their claim was that solar power was more expensive than coal power. They showed this small clinic with a solar panel that could either power its lights with its energy, or power its refrigerator, but not both at once. My first thought was that they needed another solar panel. Actually, they needed a little more than that, but it would have been a start. The documentary’s solution was that they needed to build a coal burning power plant. They said they believed coal was cheaper and more efficient than solar. I have to disagree. There are a few questions I have for those that made this little documentary. The more I hear about global warming, and the more bickering about it that goes on, the more I wonder if it isn’t something meant as a distraction to keep us from exploring and focusing on deeper issues.
How much does coal power really cost? How much does it cost to build a coal plant? How much does it cost to maintain it? How much to transport the coal? How much does it cost to pay the miners to dig the coal? How much does it cost to heal the damage done by strip mining? How many miners around the world have died in coal mining accidents? How much are their lives worth? How many other lives have been adversely affected by their deaths? What is the true environmental cost of burning coal to power our cities? There are more poisons and pollutants being pumped into the atmosphere than the carbon dioxide they are trying to blame for global warming. There’s hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrogen fluoride, heavy metals and other toxic materials. These pollutants enter our atmosphere and rain down upon us contaminating all our ecospheres. The burning of coal for our power is not the answer, no matter how cheap it is. It is not our future. It should not be anyone’s future. The future of our power production is from clean, renewable sources else some unforeseen ecological disaster might sneak up on us and we will have no future. Global warming isn’t the only natural disaster we have to think about.
What is the real cost of solar power? That’s going to depend on your individual energy needs. Once you buy a system, the cost per KW/hr. will go down for every second the system operates without added maintenance cost. After an amount of time determined by energy usage and the cost of energy from the power companies which continues to increase, the renewable system would have paid for itself and the energy from that system is essentially free. Perhaps a more pertinent question would be what is a renewable energy system worth? What is it worth to you to have your complete independence? Imagine never having to pay a monthly fee to a power company again. Should you run into some bad luck and lose your job, you wouldn’t have to worry about them turning off your electricity due to non payment of your bill. If, God forbid, you were to get sick and were unable to work you electricity would be one less thing you’d have to worry about. Money that would have otherwise been going to the electric company can be used to pay medical bills, credit cards, or other monthly bills. You could even take your family out to eat with the money not going to the power company if that were your wish. Has a storm ever come through your neighborhood and knocked out your power? You wouldn’t have to worry about that again if you had a renewable energy system independent of the public grid. And if a storm damages any component of the system, your insurance would replace it. Remember the massive power failure during the summer of 2004? Anyone who had renewable power off the grid had nothing to worry about while some of their neighbors might have sweltered for days. Lastly, let us not forget that illusive terrorist attack. What would happen if terrorists attack the power grid? We are told that nuclear power plants are targets, what if one or more of them are put out of commission? How long would it be until power is restored? Days? Weeks? Months? It wouldn’t matter to you had your own power plant using renewable sources powering your house. Would you rather depend on the power company for your power, or yourself? How much is that worth to you?
The arguments surrounding the causes of climate change have become so obfuscated and convoluted by politics and agendas that it has become difficult to determine if anyone at all involved in the debate truly cares about global warming and its impact on the earth. The billionaire Mr. Richard Branson offers a 25 million dollar prize to anyone who can come up with a machine to remove carbon dioxide from the air while at the same time, according to some sources, planning to build an oil refinery to start his own fuel business he’d call Virgin Oil. He would pay someone 25 million for an invention that does the same thing trees do so that he could make billions more making what should become an obsolete fuel that pumps more carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the air. Let’s not even start to talk about the potential ecological hazards inherent in pumping and transporting oil. Wouldn’t it make more sense for a billionaire truly concerned about the environment to invest his money and marketing know how in ecologically safe renewable energy sources like solar and wind? That is where the future lies. Wouldn’t a business man’s money be better spent developing and building zero emissions vehicles that run 100% on renewable electricity or hydrogen? After all, in order to make billions more one has to make sure that billions of people remain on earth to spend their money.
Al Gore’s credibility has also suffered recently. He seems to have made it his mission in life to instill the fear of global warming into every human being on the face of the Earth. He claims to be concerned about the environment and global warming while operating a highly energy inefficient household. His solutions seem to always include tax increases, bigger government oversight, treaties and other convoluted legal mumbo jumbo. Treaties that allow for the selling of pollution quotas leave me wondering if anyone benefits. These types of quasi solutions which pick the pockets of some to enrich others are not the solutions we should be looking at. Leaders such as Mr. Gore should lead be example. He should convert his home to a clean, energy efficient home that meets all its energy needs through the use of green technologies. He certainly has the money to do so and this would be an example for others to follow. If he were to convert his home perhaps others of similar means would also be motivated to convert theirs. This would help raise demand, which would increase supply and the prices would start to fall so that it would soon be within the means of every homeowner to convert. Of course, I don’t expect this to happen overnight, but every little step along the road helps bring us closer to the destination.
Many people believe the answer to global warming lies in legislation. I maintain that the answer lies in the marketplace. Regardless of whether or not man is responsible for global warming, it would behoove us all to start switching over to renewable sources for all our energy needs. If man is contributing to global warming, switching over will help to minimize the impact we have. If we are not contributing, switching over will help us adapt to the changes that are going to occur. And in either case, switching over will help us all become financially independent of the energy behemoths that run our lives now and will help mitigate the ecological effects that burning coal, oil and radioactive materials have on this planet, the only planet we know of that supports life.

The Great Best Buy Gift Card Scam, Part II

This article was originally published on March 22nd, 2007 at

A few days back I wrote an article on something that happened to me on my birthday with Best Buy and a gift card I received. I have never received so much response to an article. When I first sat down to write about my experience, it was not my intention to become a type of Don Quixote. I am now under the delusion that maybe something I’m doing will actually help to make the world a little better, a little nicer, a little more chivalrous. It seems that some people don’t care and others wish to have their concerns addressed but don’t know where to turn. The latter get very angry and frustrated. I thought I could use this space to share some of the response I got to my story.
One gentleman wrote me an email calling my concerns ridiculous. He asked me what right I had to expect cash for my gift card and what I felt should be the refund limit on the card. He then informed me that there are far more grievous problems with gift cards such as expiration dates and balance reduction over time so my complaint was extremely foolish. My verbatim reply is below:
Thank you for responding to my article. Feedback is always welcome. You ask a poignant question that I think deserves an answer. What right did I have to expect a cash return on my gift card? And interesting query. Upon reflection, I realize I wasn't thinking about my rights at the time I inquired about the change. I also really didn't think about my rights when I tried to get my money back for the merchandise. I wasn't even really thinking about my rights when I wrote this story in the first place. I was simply relating an episode in my life as honestly and objectively (albeit from my point of view) as I could and unveiling it as it happened. I didn't think I had claimed that I had a right to expect a cash return on my gift card, but I guess my actions could be taken as an indication that I felt I had a right to expect cash. I suppose we have the right to have expectations no matter what those expectations are. Just because we have expectations does not necessarily mean they will come to pass. As it was, at the time of the incident, I thought my wife had paid for the gift card with cash because that is her usual modus operandi. My expectations certainly were not met. In the long run, I guess Best Buy had the right to refute my expectations and they exercised that right just as I exercised my right to ask for what I felt I was due. As explained in the story, when it was explained that they had to put the money back to her credit card I accepted that and took the necessary steps to make sure that happened. I guess what I was really expecting was some good customer service, someone to listen to me and take care of my needs. I've always been taught that the customer is always right and to strive to make sure he's happy. I think that doesn't apply anymore in today's world. I have gotten a lot of feedback since this article has come out and I now realize that Best Buy simply does not care about the customer. As for how much I think the cash limit return on the card should be, 100% sounds good to me. The important thing should be that the customer has a good experience and you have won a customer for life. I have a story that was related to me about that too. Thank you also for the information about the cards losing their value and expiring. I had no idea that was the case. Yes, that certainly would have been a shame if I had waited, or lost the card and then found it again only to find that it had expired. That would certainly be a situation much worse than the one I experienced. You ask why companies should issue a card at all? Perhaps they shouldn't. I know I prefer cash and perhaps many people do but don't say so just to be polite. But, my opinion aside, the company should issue cards as a courtesy to the customer and in hopes of gaining new customers. They should not impose draconian rules upon those cards which would only serve to anger a potential customer, especially in this day and age when everyone has a platform they can climb upon to tell their story. I am sorry you feel my complaint was foolish, perhaps I am just a fool for questioning the rules. Perhaps from now on when I feel I am getting taken advantage of I should just keep my mouth shut. More likely I will continue to relate episodes of my life to anyone who is willing to read them. Thank you again for your interest.
Another gentleman told me to grow up, reminded me that retail workers make little money, and called me petty, a slovenly middle aged pseudo elitist and a schmuck. I guess he feels that because retail workers don’t make much money they are incapable of providing excellent customer service. I didn’t mean to imply in my article that I found fault with the employees of Best Buy. On the contrary, I think they were just being good little soldiers and obeying the orders of their superiors. I blame Best Buy’s policy makers, the ones at the top. As for being petty, according to a Fox News report dated Dec. 18th, 2006, Best Buy reported $43 million in gains from unused gift cards. I wish I had $43 million, then maybe I wouldn’t be so slovenly and could in fact be a real elitist. And talk about petty, Best Buy couldn’t dip into that $43 million and give me $8.49 change? If that’s not petty I don’t know what is.
Yet another gentleman informed me of a time when he had received a $25 gift card from Best Buy and they had refused to give him around $2.00 in change that he had coming to him. This was some time back and he has refused to step foot inside a Best Buy store since. He then went on to tell me a story about a gift card he had received from a small pet store that sold tropical fish. Since he keeps tropical fish and they’re hard to wrap, he felt that was a good application of a gift card. He went to the store and bought a couple of fish, but not enough to cover the entire amount on the card. The owner of the store asked him if he wanted the balance on the gift card or if he’d prefer it in cash. He told me the amount wasn’t much, around $10, but he took the cash. He continues to use that store for all his tropical fish needs even though they may sometimes charge more than a big chain pet store for certain supplies.
There were a few people who realized this article was more than just about the money, that it was about customer service. They related to me their own stories of poor to no customer service at Best Buy. One woman informed me that she had bought a new laptop computer from them for $900 with the new Windows Vista operating system installed on it. She took it home and discovered that it wouldn’t work with the software she used to conduct her business. This made the computer useless to her. She took it back to the store to ask if she could get the operating system replaced with one that would work and they told they could do that for a rather large fee. She then asked if she could return the unit seeing as how it was no good to her and get her money back and they told her they could do that for a $250 restocking fee. That's $250 they wanted to take from her without giving her anything in return. This was within a couple of days of her buying the unit. Angry and frustrated and finding no satisfaction with the so called customer service at Best Buy, she left the store with the merchandise she could not use and swore to never shop at Best Buy again.
One gentleman informed me of a situation he had with a PDA he bought at Best Buy. He told me that while it was in warranty the screen went bad and was somehow out of sync. He had bought the extended warranty. He took it back and they told him it would take them 45 days to repair it. He informed them that he used the unit every day and asked if they could exchange it for him. They informed him that wasn’t their policy. He asked if they could give him a loner for the 45 days that they would have it and they told him that wasn’t their policy. He finally gave in and let them take the unit. When it came back 30 days later he went to pick it up (surprised that it had arrived early) and found that it was not fixed. He asked if they had checked the screen and they said they had, then he showed them that it was still bad. They then told him it would take another 45 days for it to be fixed. He told them no, that he wanted an exchange. They said they could do it now but that his model was obsolete and he’d have to pay more for the upgrade. He wouldn’t take the deal as he liked the model he had and did not wish to spend more money. He finally gave up and walked out of the store with the defective unit, never to return.
Yet another gentleman bought a mini disc player as an open item from a Best Buy store. He was told it was working. When he got it home he found it was not. He tried to return the item to get his money back but they would not allow it. It wasn’t their policy. He is yet another customer Best Buy has lost.
I could go on, but why bother. Best Buy’s customer service policy seems to be no customer service. Whatever happened to “Satisfaction or your money back.”? Whatever happened to “The customer is always right.”? There is a nice story that was related to me to show us all that even in this day and age that there are still places where good customer service does exist.
A gentleman told me that he was in an Oberweis Ice Cream store one morning to pick up an ice cream cake. The price of the cake was $34. He was paying with a credit card. The card reader was having problems communicating with the authorization center. He offered to pay with another credit card, but the cashier told him it wasn’t the card that was the problem, it was the communication between the store and the authorization center. He waited for twenty to thirty minutes for the problem to resolve itself. Finally, the cashier told him to just take the cake for free. He was flabbergasted. It was a fairly expensive cake. He offered to come back and pay later. The cashier told him no, that she was the manager and it was her right to use her discretion to give him the cake. Now there’s a company who knows what customer service is all about. They realize that with good customer service they will gain a customer for life. They understand that the sacrifice of a relatively small amount now will pay big dividends in the future. That man is likely to go to Oberweis from now on for all his dairy needs.
I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations due to the last article. I’ve discussed everything from how a younger generation has grown up not knowing what good customer service is and so they don’t expect it to how people have become sheep and just accept things the way they are and do as they are told without question. I think that sometimes we as consumers don’t realize just how much power we have. If we don’t like how we are treated at a store, we shouldn’t shop there. It’s that simple. If we want excellent customer service, we must demand it. If one has a bad experience in a store, it is appropriate to tell as many other people about it as possible, otherwise no one else will know or care. Similarly, it is also important to let people know about the good experiences you have and recommend those stores that provide good customer service. This is how we can make the merchants hear us and listen to our needs. The same can be said in other areas of our lives. As a people Americans seem to just accept political corruption, poor representation and even outright criminal activities. This will continue until we demand change and stop putting politicians in office from parties we know are corrupt. We as a people, as a community and as a nation have the power to change the environments in which we do business through the positive action of refusing to do business with those that mistreat us. It is time to start practicing this idea.

The Great Best Buy Gift Card Scam

This article was originally posted on March 19th, 2007 at

It was my birthday a couple of days ago. I’ve gotten well past the point where I make a big deal out of it. Still, it is nice that others recognize the day. It is pleasant that someone else lets you know that they are happy you were born. It’s also nice to get presents. So, it was my birthday and my wife got me a couple of presents, which was nice. She got me single cup coffee maker that brews coffee right into a travel cup, so I can kind of grab and go. She also got me a $100 Best Buy gift card, and that is where my adventure begins.
I used to love Best Buy. I went there often to buy CDs and other products because they had the best deals. They also had a tendency to have the largest selection. Since the advent of the Internet as a shopping venue, however, I find that Best Buy no longer has the best deals. I also don’t like having to deal with the crowds in there at Christmas time. The nearest Best Buy store to me is also quite a bit further away than other big box stores I could go to. But all that didn’t really matter today because I had a $100 gift card and I was going to go spend it on something I wanted, something fun. I was actually going to go shopping for myself. I got in my car and headed to Best Buy.
I arrived at Best Buy and grabbed a little hand held shopping basket. I wondered what there was that I would want for less than $100. I saw some digital cameras, but any that I wanted were more than $100. Besides, I already have a digital camera. I saw some digital camcorders, but they started at well over $200 and I don’t have the extra money to spend on something so frivolous at this moment. I saw a nice pair of binoculars for about seventy five dollars which I thought about because my telescope broke a while back, but I took a pass on it. I walked around the computer section for a while, trying to get a feel for the newest in that technology, but nothing caught my eye and there were certainly no deals that jumped out at me. I settled on the old stand by, CDs and movies. I went down the aisles looking at the Rock CDs, as those were what I was interested in. I picked out about five CDs, including Death Cab for Cutie, The Killers, a couple of old CDs from the Cure that I had never replaced from when my house burned down, and some other CD that I can’t remember. I then went to the movie section to look for something that might interest me. I found a history documentary on Hitler and the occult and some other movie. I wanted to get as close to a hundred dollars as possible. When I had picked out what I felt was enough I proceeded to the cash register.
I waited patiently in line as the cashier finished with the customer in front of me. I said hi to the cashier and asked her how she was doing as I like to do when in that situation. She told me she was fine and we continued to make small talk as she rang up my merchandise. The total of my purchase was $91.51. I felt OK with that and handed the cashier my gift card. I told her I wanted the remaining balance in cash. She told me she couldn’t do that. I asked her why not and she informed me that they couldn’t give cash back for a gift card. I insisted that someone had given her cash for that card and that I should be able to recover the cash I wasn’t spending. The manager quickly became involved. She told me that they could not give change for a gift card unless it was less than five dollars. She told me that if I had the receipt from the gift card that I could get the change from it. Can you imagine? Does anyone give someone a gift card and then give them the receipt to? How ridiculous does that sound? I changed tactics and told her I didn’t get up that way very often and did not want to return to her store to spend what was left on the card. She told me that I could go back now and spend the remaining money. Now my ire was raised. I saw their game. People get these gift cards and then are forced to spend almost the entire amount at the store, and I’m sure that the store hopes the consumer will spend more than what’s on the card. I could feel my face getting red. I grabbed my merchandise and walked out the store.
I was a few steps out the door when an idea hit me. If they weren’t going to give me the $8.49 change for the card, which should not have been that unreasonable a request, then I wasn’t going to give them any money at all. I turned around and went back in. I didn’t need the junk I had bought. Besides, I could probably get it cheaper somewhere else. I would return it and get my money back.
I went to the return counter and told them I wanted to return everything I had just bought. I told them I wanted cash for the merchandise. They would not give it to me. They would only put them money back on the gift card. Again, a manager got involved. This manager had a badge that told me he was a “hiring manager”, whatever that meant. I told him what was happening and that I refused to spend any of my money at his store. He told me that he would have liked to have given me cash for change but that Best Buy had a contract with American Express and that the agreement stated that they would not give change for more than five dollars. I told him I didn’t care about his excuses and that I wanted the money back for the card. He told me I needed the receipt, that if it was bought with a credit card that money would be returned to the card, if it was bought with a check then a check would be sent to me, if it was bought with cash than I would receive cash. The other manager, who had come over to observe the proceedings, said she had told me the same thing. I explained to her that she hadn’t, that she didn’t say anything about a contract with American Express. She told me that she had told me about not being able to return money without the receipt. The point was moot. I was going to have to get the receipt from my wife, who had been thoughtful enough to buy me this gift card which was now turning into more problems than it was worth. This certainly wasn’t the best customer service I had ever experienced.
I really doubt that these people cared about what was going on here. I can’t help but believe that those workers simply saw me as some butt hole out to give them a hard time. I doubt very much that they could see this from my point of view. I figured it this way, that someone had given them money to buy the gift card and had given me the gift card to use like money at their store. They were going to get their $100 cash for the card no matter what, so they should be able to give me the change. If what I was told by the “hiring manager” is true, then American Express really should have no business telling Best Buy how to best serve their customers. Personally, if it were me, I’d find someone else to handle the gift cards or do it myself if some corporation like American Express was putting such stupid restrictions on my customer service. If I had only wanted to spend ten dollars at their store it seems to me that it would be ten dollars more than they would have had otherwise. What harm would it do Best Buy to give change for a gift card no matter how much or how little one spends when using it? It seems to me that too many people probably just accept these restrictions, don’t question them, and so like sheep we just spend the money at that store even when we can’t find anything we really need or want. We really have become materialistic zombies wondering about the aisles of the big box stores buying junk to try to fulfill our empty lives. I found myself, as I traveled home now light all that merchandise but still in possession of the $100 gift card, thinking that I really didn’t need the stuff I had bought and that the money could be better spent elsewhere. I found myself thinking that all I was doing was acquiring meaningless junk anyway. Certainly there was more to life than acquiring material goods. I began to wonder if this episode was going to bring me some kind of spiritual epiphany.
I got home and fortunately my wife had the receipt for the gift card. If she had thrown it away I guess I would have been stuck with the card and I would have been forced to spend the money at Best Buy. It seems to me that that policy is also a little unfair. I took my son with me when I returned to Best Buy. I gave the manager the card and the receipt. He then asked me if I had the credit card which had purchased the gift card. I told him no, that it had been a gift. My son noted “Hence the name gift card.” Quite an astute observation from a thirteen year old, even if it was beyond obvious. I told him he had said all I would need was the receipt and that had he told me I needed the card I would have brought it. I ended up having to call my wife to get the credit card number. I then explained to the “hiring manager” that I knew he didn’t care, but someone higher up at Best Buy should. I explained that they’d had $91.51 in their pocket and that money had been lost to them simply because they refused to give me $8.49 change. Not only that, I told him, but I had given Best Buy gift cards as gifts in the past and I would no longer do that. In addition, my wife, who also thought the policy of not giving back change was silly, would never again buy a Best Buy gift card. I also told him that I would write about this episode and people would read about it. And so I have. In the end, the money was put back on my wife’s credit card and she gave me $100 dollars cash I can spend anywhere. I don’t know where I’m going to spend it, maybe I’ll hunt down some deals on the Internet, maybe I’ll take my family out to dinner. I’m sure I’ll make good use of it. As for a spiritual epiphany, it never happened, at least not yet. But I do feel better now that the episode is over and I've kept my promise to write about it. In fact, I feel strangely more empowered with $100 cash in my pocket than I did with flaccid piece of plastic good at only one store in my wallet.

Where is America?

This article was originally posted on Febuary 25th, 2007 at

I wonder how many people in this country of ours can actually answer that question by looking on a map. I know, many of you are saying America is a large country situated on the North American continent between Canada and Mexico with Alaska being a large chunk of land situated north of the rest of the country on the western side of Canada and Hawaii a small chain of islands situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. But that’s not all America is. America is far more than just a physical place, a land where some three hundred million people live, work, play and die. America is an idea. It is the idea that people can live out their lives while enjoying freedom and liberty. It is the idea that I know what’s best for me and you know what’s best for you. It is the idea that one can live however one pleases so long as he does not harm another. It is the idea that one can go about one’s business of living without government interference or mandates. I wish to know where this America is, for in today’s world such a place does not exist. Every day I have to live with the threat of government putting its hand in my affairs. Whether it be that I am forced to buckle my seatbelt to drive my car, that I won’t be able to light up as I sit at the bar enjoying a beverage, that I am forced to give a portion of my money to some faceless bureaucrat so he can redistribute it, or that I have to be extremely careful about who I associate with on the Internet, the government attempts to pry into every aspect of modern life. This is not America. At least, it’s not the America I learned about as a child. Where is America?
This country that we live in has become corrupt to the core. Corruption, like a cancer, grows and metastasizes as its tendrils reach into every system and subsystem of the body politic. Soon, the whole entity is sick with it. It begins to permeate not only government, but the foundations society is built upon. It begins to seem as though corruption is the norm rather than the exception. It gets to the point where it seems the only way to get ahead is to become corrupt, become part of the cancer. An honest business man hardly stands a chance as the government regulates him into bankruptcy. An honest worker finds himself drowning in debt as the government taxes his earnings to the point where he can’t pay his bills. Yet government continues to grow, continues to spend the money we haven’t even earned yet, and as the government grows, so does corruption. Soon, the only businesses left are those with government contracts, those with government connections, those that have donated to the campaigns of elected officials. Soon, the only jobs available are government jobs, or jobs tied to the government. The system morphs into one of state owned means rather than private enterprise. This is not America. We need fewer regulations, not more.
The country we live in has become arrogant and belligerent. Our government has carried out wars of aggression against other nations. Our government has invaded and occupied countries which no longer welcome us. Our government seems to feel obliged to force our way of life on other peoples. Our government now rules the people of this nation by fear. We are told to fear the next terrorist attack. We are told to fear weapons of mass destruction. We are told to fear a dirty bomb. We are told to fear the Muslim, or the Arab, or the man with the funny accent. This fear is used as an excuse for the government to spy on its people. Dissent is squelched. Questions are frowned upon. Those that ask questions and chose to dissent are criticized, ostracized and even threatened with imprisonment. And so the fear perpetuates itself. We now fear the government. Soon, we will fear each other. Already, we have begun to spy on one another. More and more the society resembles a police state much like that of Hitler’s Germany. This is not America. We need to be the peace makers, not the warriors. We need to be friendly to our neighbors, not suspicious of them. We need less government and fewer laws, not more.
The other night I was listening to a radio talk show called Free Talk Live. Actually, I’ve been listening to the show for quite some time now. It’s hosted by a couple of young gentlemen who espouse the virtues of libertarianism. It’s a show I wish I had thought of and been able to do twenty years ago, but I guess everything comes to be in its own time. This show has a powerful message of hope, for if we all pay attention to its message and act upon it, America may yet be America again. Anyway, the other day when I was listening, one of the hosts said something very interesting. He made the claim that being libertarian meant more than just belonging to a political party, it was a way life. I thought about this, and decided he was right.
This is where America is. It lives in the hearts and minds of those who practice libertarianism. It breathes in those who believe in the rights of the individual and personal responsibility. Its spirit lives on in those who understand tyranny and speak out against it, though the majority may be in favor of it. Being Libertarian is being American. It is respecting the rights of others to make up their own minds, to take care of their own business, to recreate in their own way and to live their own lives. America is not just a place, it’s a way of life. America is still here despite all the attempts of the president and congress to legislate it into the dustbin of history. Freedom and liberty are powerful ideas that, once planted in the hearts and minds of the populace, are hard to kill. If we give these ideas a little water, if we pay just a little bit of attention to them, they will grow and spread like wild flowers in our garden. Then we can have hope for our future. Then we can find America in this place once again.

Propaganda, Politicians, Magic and Illusion

This article was originally posted on Febuary 19th, 2007 at

I’ve always been interested in magic. I do know a little about it. I like to dabble in it. I’m not talking about the natural kind of magic that Wiccans and the like practice, although that type of magic does hold a certain fascination for me, but the store bought type of magic, the type of magic Harry Houdini, David Copperfield and other stage magicians like to practice. I’ve even purchased many magic gadgets in my life to learn their secrets and try to amaze my friends. The problem with many of these gadgets is that the trick took practice to perfect, which meant time, and I’ve always seemed to have better things to do with my time than practice magic.
I went to high school with a kid who was quite an accomplished magician. He must have spent hours practicing his craft. I interviewed him for the school paper. He showed me how slight of hand worked, and how deft his fingers were. He was so good at it, he could make a lit cigarette disappear in a darkened room. But there’s more to slight of hand than lots of practice and nimble fingers. Much of it is psychological. Much of what makes a good magician better is his performance skills. After all, what is magic if not entertainment? One must be able to get the audience to watch what the right hand is doing while the left hand hides the prop. When one learns these things, when one becomes adept at them, then magic becomes a science rather than a marvel. It can, in fact, lose its appeal as one sees through the façade and realizes – through critical thinking – what is going on behind the scenes. When you realize that magic is just a deception, it can actually be quite a letdown. Still, even an old magician that knows all the secrets can appreciate a good trick performed well.
In this way, politicians have become excellent magicians. They show you what their right hand is doing while hiding what’s in their left hand. Their object is to give you the illusion they’re doing something. They’ve been doing this for years, but it seems that lately it’s become more ridiculous. They debate non binding resolutions to make it look like they are against an unjust, illegal war, to make it look like they care, while they allow a commander in chief who has more than proven his incompetence remain at the helm. They argue about a “surge” of more soldiers instead of demanding the return of the troops already there. They worry about how they will be perceived if they remove funding for the war instead of truly supporting the troops by completely cutting off funding and forcing their homecoming. They want you to believe that they are for a free society, fighting for our ideals while they fail to repeal recently passed unconstitutional legislation that could be used to completely subjugate citizens of the United States and quiet dissent if it becomes necessary. They want you to believe they are working for the common American while accepting billions of dollars from special interest lobbies with agendas contrary to the interests of Americans. They want people to think they’re an opposition party while preaching the virtues of bi-partisanship. Most of all, they want us to think that we need them, that we need their protection, that we need the benefits they provide us, that we need their services, while they do nothing but take and see to it that their friends and political contributors and allies benefit from the public coffers. They cast an illusion of governance while behind the façade one sees nothing but the papier-mâché framework of nepotism.
Like a good magician, politicians need an able assistant willing to keep the secrets of their trade. They found this assistant in the main stream media. The mass media practices a slight of hand known as propaganda. They decide what it is the American people will be watching on their television sets. They decide whether the American people will be seeing pictures and film from the war in Iraq or pictures and film from the life of Anna Nicole. They decide whether to report on the deaths that occurred in Iraq or the drug bust that took place on a given day. They decide, through their commentators, what the American people should think about a given issue. They help the politicians create the illusions mentioned above. They help them create the illusion that we need big government, that we need to give up our privacy, our right to speak and other freedoms for our own protection, that we need to be the aggressor in warfare in order to protect our freedoms and our way of life, and that we need government to take care of us. Most of all, they help to create the illusion that there are only two political parties in this country. Like a good assistant to a good magician as part of a good stage show, they help make people believe that the magic is real, that something is happening which the audience knows is impossible. And it works. A few days ago a coworker and I were talking about a news story about Iran’s nuclear ambitions and I voiced my doubt as to the authenticity of the report. My coworker asked me sincerely if I felt the media would lie to us. I just walked away without answering him. I could tell he didn’t want to be let down by knowing the truth. It’s a trick, folks, an illusion, and all any of them care about is getting the money they took from you at the door to the theatre.
Unfortunately the illusion the politicians and the media has created is extremely well done. Many people are like my coworker and still believe that CNN, FOX and other network news sources would never lie to the public. They believe that every word printed in the New York Times and Washington Post must be true. For some of them, they may never come to the realization that they are being deceived. After all, that’s what a good illusion is all about, deception. Many, however, are beginning to see through the illusion. Readership in major newspapers is down. Television news is losing its viewers. More and more people are turning to the Internet to get their information and while everything there may not necessarily be true, at least it's up to the individual to decide what to believe. There is hope, if we can hold on for a couple more years, and maybe then we’ll all realize as we walk out of that theatre that he didn’t really cut that woman in half.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Mr. Branson, May I Please Have the 25 Million Dollars Anyway?

This article was originally posted on Febuary 11th, 2007 at

Mr. Branson, Mr. Gore, I have done it. I have figured out a way to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere after it has been released and convert it to oxygen! I like to call this marvelous technology, the “tree.” It is amazing! This machine is very easy to build. In fact, they reproduce themselves. Take a little thing called a “seed” from a “tree” that already exists and put it in the ground and – violá – a couple months later a small tree appears. Don’t worry, it will grow. “Trees” come in many sizes, but the ones we need get pretty darn tall. These “trees” take carbon dioxide right from the air and once inside them it is converted to energy and oxygen is released. It is my understanding that at one time, perhaps hundreds of millions of years ago, these “trees” covered the Earth, probably as some sort of evolutionary process brought on by an overabundance of carbon dioxide.
Unfortunately, I can’t take credit for inventing the “tree”. Still, I’m sure that with enough of these spread across the planet – and if we take steps to stop producing carbon dioxide – we will be able to overcome this carbon dioxide problem. It is for this reason I am asking you if you will please give me the 25 million dollars anyway for coming up with this idea. If you do, I will make this pledge to you. I will pledge to you that I will not waste your money on fancy gadgets that cost more than they’re worth and don’t do the job they’re supposed to do. I will spend the money on systems that will help mankind overcome his dependency on oil and other fossil fuels and the billionaires who continue to extract these fuels from the Earth causing untold misery and ecological damage just so they can stay billionaires and maintain a certain control over all our lives. I will take one fifth of the prize and open a business selling solar and wind power systems. I will build a house in a busy location opened to the public that will show how well the new systems work. This will not be an ultra modern house or anything unsightly, but a normal looking house off the grid run completely with solar and wind power. Personally, I like Victorian style houses. This house would be open to the public so anyone would be able to walk through to see all the wonderful energy producing products available to modern man as well as the latest in energy efficient lighting products, appliances and climate control products. I would also open a facility on the same plot of land to make available research and development space for product improvements and new products such as zero emissions vehicles, if funding allowed. This facility could also be used to demonstrate how green roofs are being used to save energy and enrich our lives.
I pledge that I would use the rest of the money to buy and maintain land in South America. It seems as if the best “trees” for capturing carbon dioxide cover the areas in lands known as “rain forests”. I would buy land owned by farmers, at a nice profit for them so they could live comfortably, and convert that land back to “rain forest”. There, I would create hundreds of more “trees”. Of course, I probably couldn’t buy that much land back with 20 million, but every little bit helps. It occurs to me that a small facility could be built on this plot of land where scientists could do research on the natural flora and fauna in this reclaimed area and perhaps develop new medicines derived from these. Maybe even some species of plants or animals that are near extinction could be saved inside these few reforested acres. If this project works out, perhaps more people with money would also be interested in buying land for reforestation. What a marvelous thing it would be to see the “rain forests” rebuilt to their former grandeur.
To conclude, Mr. Branson, it is very generous of you to give away so much money for such a worthy cause. I hope you will consider my idea seriously. In the article I read, it was stated that we once had to wait 60 years to obtain a way to accurately measure longitude even though a prize like this was offered. It was also stated that we couldn’t afford to wait another 60 years for this technology. I agree. We should start working now with the technology already available, including the technology supplied by nature, to eliminate the creation of carbon dioxide as well as pulling carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and bring our planet back to a more natural state.

Positive Thinking and the Death of the American Dream

This article was originally published on Febuary 6th, 2007 at

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about positive thinking and a thought responsive universe. I learned about the power of positive thinking way back in the seventies and have practiced it throughout my life. There are some people who swear by it, others who will tell you it’s nothing but bull hockey and still others who make money selling it to those desperately seeking some meaning in their lives. As for me, positive thinking has both worked for and failed in my life. I’m not going to discuss the details of my own personal experiences with positive thinking, but rather the place positive and negative thinking has on the collective consciousness of all human beings.
We can start by examining the “American dream.” Think about what this means for you. Does it mean a nice home in the burbs with an idyllic family, a filled two car garage, a couple of TVs, and all the niceties and baubles life has to offer? Does it mean rampant consumerism and debt up to your eyeballs? Are these the things you dream of? I have my own idea of what the American dream is, or at least what I think it should be. It's about freedom and individual liberty. It's about the freedom to do things without interference from a government entity. It's about the freedom to decide for yourself what you want to do with your life, to keep what you earn, to spend as you see fit, to do whatever you feel so long as you don’t interfere with another’s rights. These dreams make the other dreams happen. These are the dreams this country was founded on and these are the dreams that are rapidly slipping away from us as our government becomes more and more intrusive on our everyday rights and more and more dictatorial in our economic life. The dream of freedom and liberty becomes harder and harder to realize as the government becomes more socialist, some may say even communist, and passes more and more intrusive laws that take freedom and power from the citizen and grant power to the bureaucrats. There are those who don’t seem to mind this. You see, freedom and liberty require that one take responsibility for his own life, and there are some who do not want to take responsibility for themselves. There are those among us who wish everything would be done for them, that the government would take care of them. There are those who think they are entitled to a certain lifestyle, and they are willing to take from each and every tax payer in order to get their entitlement. A free society should not work that way. A free society should not force anyone to do something they don’t want to do. On the other hand, a free society certainly wouldn’t keep people from volunteering their time, money and expertise if they so chose to do so. We can, in a free society, choose to help our fellow man and choose to do any function government currently provides without the threat of force, fines, imprisonment and other punishment hanging over our heads. It is a matter of showing those in power we have the will to do it much as it was in 1776 when our forefathers decided to show the British government they had the will to choose freedom.
Am I going to tell you that we can do this by thinking positive? Hell no. I don’t believe that for a second. Positive thinking in and of itself has the power to do nothing in this world. I found out a long time ago that one can sit around the house all day long thinking positive and nothing positive will happen in his life. You can sit there watching “American Idol” or “Survivor” or sports or whatever other reality TV show is the show du jour all night long and visualize yourself as a millionaire, or with a new job, or lover, or simply living a bit of a better life, and it will never happen. Perhaps on another plane of existence this would work, but not here, baby, not on this material planet we call Earth. Nothing positive will happen no matter how long or hard you think in a positive manner and no matter how clearly you visualize your goals. Positive thinking will only work if it is paired up with positive action. This world we live in is not a thought responsive world, it is an action responsive world. In fact, even positive thought can lead to negative consequences if the actions springing from these thoughts are negative. That’s where the phrase “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” comes from.
Let us consider negative thinking for a moment. Anger, hatred, jealousy, etc. can all be considered negative emotions. These emotions can lead to negative thinking. Negative thinking in and of itself is neither a good thing nor a bad thing. Like positive thinking, negative thinking will do nothing for or against you if it is not acted upon. Again, you can sit on your couch and watch TV all day long thinking about how much you hate someone or something or how much you’d like to destroy something or kill someone and nothing will happen. If, however, you follow these thoughts up with action then bad things may happen, depending on the actions you take. A building ending up destroyed and people dead due to a bomb you planted would be a negative thing. However, if you took that negative thought and did something like write an op/ed piece for some online publication or blog, or take part in some civil disobedience, that could end up being a positive thing. Again, this world is not thought responsive as much as it is action responsive.
Another point some people might not take into account is that even if this existence is a thought responsive one, than it is for everyone. Anyone who is thinking positive very well could be countered by someone thinking negative, or thinking more positive, than that person. For instance, two teams on a football field have eleven players and each player is visualizing the outcome of a given play. The offensive players may be visualizing a reception and the defensive players may be visualizing an interception. Each outcome is a positive result for one team and a negative result for the other. I find it hard to believe that every given play is determined by one or more players on a given team being able to visualize better than the players on the other team. While positive thinking may or may not contribute to the outcome of the play, it is obvious that there are many other factors that contribute to the outcome of the play such as the skill level of the various players, the actions those players take in the course of the play, and even luck. This scenario can play out in most if not all endeavors in life including politics, economics, warfare, etc. In my own life, despite positive thinking and taking positive action, I have been unable to successfully get a book published and marketed to the point where I can make a decent living just writing. In fact, I haven’t been able to even supplement my income with my writing skills. Had I been, then perhaps another equally worthy writer (or even a less worthy one) would have been bumped from their publisher due to my good fortune. Of course, this doesn’t keep me from continuing to envision positive outcomes for my writing skills and I keep trying, I keep submitting, I keep writing. All are positive actions to my positive thinking.
What does any of this have to do with the death of the American dream? It’s simply this, if you believe as I do that the American dream is the dream of freedom and liberty for the individual, or even if you don’t, then it’s not enough to sit back and think positive thoughts and visualize positive scenarios that our rights will be protected by those in power. It’s not enough to sit back and think negative thoughts about what is going on in the world and simply complain about it. The time has come to take action. Speak out in some way. Write a letter to your congressman. Write an opinion article for your paper or a letter to the editor. Show that you are willing to vote for a third party, to kick those that have gotten us to this point out of power. Educate yourself. Use this marvelous technology called the Internet. Take part in a peaceful demonstration. Take part in a PTA or a city counsel meeting on a local level. Run for office. If the American dream is to survive, then Americans need to get up and take part. In order to maintain our freedom we must remain ever vigilant. Positive thinking in and of itself is not enough anymore. We all need to get involved. We all need to contribute. The more of us who take positive action, the more those in power will be pressured to correct their errors. If, however, we all just sit back and think about doing something without actually taking action, then the American dream will die and big brother will be guiding our every thought and action.

Don't Tell Us, Hillary, Show Us

This article was originally published on January 31st, 2007 at

Back in 2002 Valentine, my coworker and friend, and I would often have discussions about whether or not the United States should invade Iraq. Valentine was against any action in Iraq and I was on the fence. Valentine explained to me that he felt there was no reason to invade Iraq. He felt that Saddam Hussein was afraid of us. After all, we had the most powerful military in the world. We had already beaten the snot out of his military in an earlier war. He was allowing weapons inspectors into his country. We had effectively defanged and declawed the tiger. Valentine would often argue that he felt Saddam had already gotten rid of all his weapons of mass destruction due to his fear of the U.S. There was no evidence he had weapons of mass destruction, he would argue, and he would do so fairly vehemently and with much certainty. When talking about the threat Iraq posed to the U.S. Valentine would often tell me with a chuckle that Iraq’s navy was a huge threat to ours and that he was certain their military was raising an invasion force that would soon attack us. Those two men in a rowboat could – without a doubt – cause great upheaval in these United States and change our way of life. When I would argue that the U.S. military should go into Iraq simply to liberate its people, he would argue that the citizens of Iraq would fight our soldiers. He explained that we would do the same if some foreign power was to invade us to force a regime change. Time proved he was right on all counts.
A couple of days ago, Hillary Clinton came out and said if she had known how badly the war would go, she would have never voted for it. Makes one wonder what we’re paying her for. If an eighty two year old man sitting in the Midwest far away from the pulse of the U.S. and other world governments knew months ahead of time that there were no weapons of mass destruction, why didn’t Senator Hillary Clinton? If he could see how ludicrous the allegation that Iraq posed a threat to the U.S., why couldn’t Hillary? If he could deduce the obvious using nothing but his common sense, why wasn’t Hillary able to do the same? Perhaps Valentine would make a better presidential candidate than Hillary. After all, don’t we want our leaders to have foresight? Isn’t it a good thing for a high office holder to be able to weigh his actions and determine the potential negative repercussions as well as the positive? Shouldn’t a leader be able to apply common sense to a given situation? It seems to me that perhaps Hillary is lacking in these qualities.
Many people may think I’m being unfair to Hillary, that I’m singling her out. To be fair, George Bush did fool a great many people with his rhetoric and perhaps Hillary was one of these. Certainly, a great majority of her Democratic brethren were, as evidenced by their voting record since Sept. 11th, 2001. They almost unanimously along with their Republican fellows voted to take away the rights guaranteed us by our Creator and codified in our constitution by passing draconian laws in a spirit of fear and anger after that terrifying day. They gave the president emergency powers beyond the scope the constitution outlines for the executive branch. They voted to allow him to invade Iraq and then they kept voting to keep funding the war even after the vast majority of the people in the U.S. could see the folly of the Iraq occupation. Congress, both the Democrats and the Republicans, gave Bush nearly dictatorial powers and abdicated their oversight duty.
On the surface it may seem I’m being unfair to Hillary, but she now wants to be president and so she gives a campaign speech in Iowa. That is why she is now singled out. I can forgive the past, but we all must now worry about the future. Hillary tells us that the war in Iraq is President Bush’s responsibility. She tells us he should extricate our troops from this perilous situation. She informs us that her hindsight is 20/20 and that if she had known then what she knows now she would have voted differently. That’s a convenient thing to say. She has conveniently excused herself for shirking her own responsibility, a responsibility the people of New York hired her to exercise. Will she give us the same excuses next year when we’re at war with Iran? Will she say she never saw it coming even though many experts see it happening? What this country needs now is action. What this country needs now is leadership. All Hillary has given us thus far is excuses and lip service. Enough of the rhetoric. The war is as much the responsibility of congress, both the house and the senate, as it is of the executive. They are equal branches of the government. Hillary says that it is Bush’s responsibility, yet there are substantial actions these governmental bodies can take to stop this madness. Show us your leadership skills, Hillary. Demand the early termination of the Bush presidency. Demand that your Democratic brethren in the lower house draw up articles of impeachment. Demand that your fellows in the senate find him guilty. That shouldn’t be too hard to do considering President Bush’s lies and blatant disregard for the constitution he took an oath to uphold. Show your leadership. Demand that the Republicans listen to their constituents screaming in the streets for our soldiers to come home now. Demand that they work with you in the spirit of bipartisanship you seem to hold so highly and support the impeachment of this president so that we can but a halt to the insanity in the Middle East before it spreads. Show us what a uniting force you can be. If the president insists on continuing his fool hardy attempt to stay the course, then demand that congress stop the funding. The U.S. is bleeding green ink and at the very least a tourniquet is needed. Stand up to the war profiteers as only a truly brave leader can and tell them they are no longer welcome to dine on our tax dollars. Stand up to any who would lobby for this war and tell them you can no longer accept their blood money. Prove your leadership and strong arm your colleagues into repealing the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act. Show us that you care about the freedom and liberty of the American people. Prove that you do not fear the free speech rights of those who would dissent. These times are extraordinary, Senator Clinton, and as such the ordinary is no longer good enough. It is no longer acceptable to simply cry foul and point. Now is the time to let your voice be heard not by shouting the loudest, but by doing what is necessary to not only stop the current war, but prevent the future one.

What is Easy v What is Right

This article was originally published on January 29th, 2007 at

Sometimes we can find the most appropriate words in the least likely places. The other night I was watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Toward the end of the movie the headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, says, “There are dark times ahead. Soon we will all have to chose between what is right and what is easy.” When I heard these words I thought they were appropriate for these times.
While there may or may not be dark times ahead, there are always times when we will all have to chose between what is right and what is easy. Looking back on our recent history, it seems to me we have been making the decisions to do what was easy and at the same time deceiving ourselves that we were doing what was right. Why is this so? Well, perhaps sometimes it’s hard to do what’s right. Like electricity, humans seem to want to follow the path of least resistance.
It is easy to live our lives as if nothing is wrong. It is easy to believe we are safe in our warm homes. It is easy to sit on our couches and watch “Survivor” or “American Idol”. It is easy to believe the propaganda that they put on the screen every night and in print every day and not question it. And it is easy to believe that it is right to let those in charge just do what they will and not the will of the people, to not assert yourself. It’s easy to just let someone else take the actions necessary to safeguard your freedom. It is easy to foist your responsibility on someone else. It's hard to admit that something is wrong. It's hard to get up and take action yourself. It's hard to stand up and be counted. It's hard to write an article like this.
It’s easy for the House of Representatives to say that impeachment is off the table, that they are going to try to work in a bipartisan manner. It’s easy for them to say there’s nothing they can do about the war in Iraq, that it is the president’s decision and his responsibility. It’s easy to do nothing about the illegal laws that have been recently passed that in essence shred the constitution, laws like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act. It’s easy to just let them ride and continue to abuse the rights of those people whose lives have been destroyed by these laws. It’s easy to say, “Oh, they’re just terrorists. They deserve no rights.” It’s especially easy because they will never get a public trial, they will never have the chance to present their defense to an unbiased jury or, in fact, to any jury. Chances are the public will never even hear about any trial unless they pay attention to the back pages of the paper or the obscure sites on the Internet. It’s easy to say these laws are necessary to protect us, that we should trade our liberties for a measure of security.
It’s hard to do what’s right. It’s right to charge the criminal with the crime and bring him up on charges. It’s right to seek justice, even if some toes have to be stepped on. It’s right to try to save the lives of American soldiers by demanding they come home now. It’s right to stop funding the war if that’s what it takes. It’s right to strip the power from a lying president after he’s proven his ineptitude. It’s right to stand up for the rights of the individual. It’s right to demand a man be charged and brought to trial or set free, regardless of what religion he professes or what country he calls home. It’s right to demand that unjust, un-American laws be repealed. It’s right that someone stand up and point out that it is our ideals that are worthy of protection, not so much our bodies, and that many have already given their lives so that these ideals can continue to flourish in the United States of America. It is right to point out that he who trades liberty for security will have neither.
It’s hard to do what’s right. It’s especially hard for the lazy. Perhaps the Democrats are lazy. Perhaps they’re deaf and can’t hear the multitude of voices screaming for them to do what they were hired to do. Or perhaps there’s some other reason they refuse to do what’s right.

The Folly of the Illinois Air Team

This article was originally published on Jan. 29th, 2007 at

As many of you know, I am an environmental advocate. I’m all for clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and clean land to live on, farm and recreate upon. Recently, however, something happened to my family that made me realize just how wrong it is for the government to mandate checks of auto emissions.
My wife has an old beater in the driveway which she hasn’t driven in months. When she got the paperwork telling her she needed to take the car to the emission test facility, known in Illinois as the "Air Team," to get it checked for emissions, she filled out the required section and sent it back to the state explaining the car was undriveable. We thought that was that. My wife works about a mile and a half from our house. It takes her maybe five minutes to get to or from work. Recently a police officer pulled her over as she left her place of employment. She was pulled over for driving on a suspended license. It turns out the state never received the paperwork she sent in for her beater. Her license was suspended because she hadn’t taken the undriveable car into the emission test facility. They had to call a police officer who knew how to drive a stick shift so he could move the vehicle twenty five feet around a corner and park it. She had to call her father to come pick her up. She then had to spend all day on the phone talking to government bureaucrats until she found the right person to deal with on this issue. She works nights, so she lost most of her sleep time that day. This would be equivalent to you or me having to start calling around 10 or 11 pm (assuming that’s about bedtime) and staying awake until 3 or 4 in the morning when you have to wake up at 6 to go to work. When she reached the proper department and told the lady on the other end what had happened the lady told her “We don’t handle drunk driving cases here.” That shows how much these government workers pay attention. My wife had to explain the situation to her once again. When the woman finally understood what was going on she got the proper wheels in motion. She explained to my wife that her license would be reinstated after three days. For that time she hitched rides from her dad and daughter to and from work. If she hadn’t been able to find a ride for whatever reason, she would have had to have missed work for those days. As it was, three days later she was able to drive again.
I’ve never been in favor of emission testing, even though I’m in favor of cleaning up the environment and keeping it clean. The reasons I’m against emissions testing are many. First off, it’s unfair to those who can least afford it. If someone needs a car to get to work and can only afford a beater, what makes them think these people can afford to get the car fixed if it doesn’t measure up to their standards? They may have to decide between getting their car fixed and paying for food, or medicine, or heat in their apartment. It’s laws like these that can push someone on the edge over it and into homelessness. I know some of you might think that’s extreme, but how many homeless people have you talked to lately? How many have you asked what finally caused them to become homeless? At one point in time my car was repossessed and as a result I was very close to homelessness. If it hadn’t been for the support of my father, I would have been.
It’s also a federal law and yet not everyone in the nation has to follow it. You only have to take a car in to have it checked if you live in a more populated area. That’s not right. I’m not for this law at all, but if it’s going to be a federal law than anyone who lives in the United States of America should have to follow it regardless of how many other people live in their area. Another problem is that the government is forcing people to do something most do not want to do. How many people actually want to go spend time at the emission testing center? The government forces this with the threat of suspended licenses, fines and even jail time if the situation gets out of hand. Finally, how much pollution is truly being stopped with this law? What percentage of people who own polluting cars wouldn’t get them fixed if they were giving them trouble? One of the reasons given for the law is that people keep their cars in better condition. That’s fine if you have the money, but if you’ve lost your job or have sudden medical bills, fixing a car because of emissions might not be high on one’s priority list. The state of Illinois requires a minimum of $450 in repair bills for a polluting car before they’ll waive the inspection. That can be a lot of money for someone going through some rough times. If the government is truly serious about stopping pollution, wouldn’t it be a better idea to mandate zero emission vehicles? Not that I’m in favor of any government mandate, but the technology is there. Battery operated cars have vastly improved over the last few years and those that have owned them loved them. Don’t believe me? Watch “Who Killed the Electric Car?” If these cars were just allowed to be put on the market I’m sure people would voluntarily buy them by the thousands and I would venture a guess that within a decade we would not have to worry about pollution from cars anymore. That would save everyone money on gas and would make these intrusive laws obsolete. It would also result in much cleaner air in many areas. Perhaps I’m just tired of the government getting involved in every little aspect of my life, but it seems these mandates do nothing but make already huge corporations more money.
So, I get home from work a couple of days back and my wife tells me she had to go to court that day for driving on a suspended license. I had thought the whole nasty episode was over, but I was wrong. She then informed me that she had to pay $175. I was flabbergasted. A hundred and seventy five dollars is a lot of groceries. We are all ready on a tight budget. I told her I thought the ruling was ridiculous. She agreed, saying the judge had informed her that it didn’t matter that she didn’t know her license was suspended. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law. He also told her that she needed proof that she had sent her paperwork in, that she needed a certified mail receipt to show someone from the state had received it. There’s more proof that in this system you have to prove your innocence. I had thought it was the other way around. I had thought the state had to prove her guilty. So now we have to send certified mail with a return receipt every time we do business with the state? I would think the state should have to show a certified mail receipt to show that she had received notice that if she didn’t bring her car in her license would be suspended. I would think they should have to issue some kind of warning via certified mail to show up for a hearing or her license would be suspended. Where’s the justice? How do we know some mailman somewhere isn’t dumping the mail in some forest preserve? It’s been known to happen. We could appeal the ruling, but that would cost us thousands. I know that some of you might think it’s just a little thing and I shouldn’t complain about it, but all these little things add up to tyranny. Some bureaucrat loses or fails to properly record paperwork and we end up paying for it. We pay for their bungling, their ineptitude. My wife just smiled and paid the fine. She shrugged it off as the state robbed her. If some guy on the street had pulled a gun on her and taken her money they would have been all over him, dragging him in front of the judge as fast as they could catch him, but they can do essentially the same thing and there’s nothing we can do about it without spending more money. Frankly, I’m sick of it. I can only hope and pray that our day is coming and that one day the common man will again live in true freedom without government interference.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Patriot's Response to Mr. Moore's Pledge

This article was originally published on Nov. 18th, 2006 at It was written not long after the socialist Michael Moore put out a pledge to displaced conservatives.

A while back, a friend of mine and I were having a political discussion. He was of the opinion that, depending on certain definitions, ten percent of us were liberal, 10 percent conservative and the rest were somewhere in between. I felt that was a fair assessment.
A few days ago, I read an article written by Michael Moore entitled “A Liberal’s Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives.” The purpose of this article was to get democrats to sign a pledge he put up on the web so that conservatives will feel better that democrats are now in power. I do not consider myself either conservative or liberal, a Democrat or Republican. It is interesting that Mr. Moore chose to address “the conservatives” and ignore the rest of us. I felt he might like to know how someone like me feels about his pledge, and so I have reproduced it here, put his words in parentheses so the reader knows what I’m responding too, and put my responses below each of his statements on a point by point basis. I know I am not a multi-millionaire documentary film maker and so I’m sure my opinion doesn’t mean squat. After all, I’m nothing but a blue collar slave working day to day to make ends meet. So, Mr. Moore and all you who worship him, take my words for what they are worth.
(I know you are dismayed and disheartened at the results of last week's election. You're worried that the country is heading toward a very bad place you don't want it to go. Your 12-year Republican Revolution has ended with so much yet to do, so many promises left unfulfilled. You are in a funk, and I understand.)
Actually, I am quite heartened by what I saw in the last election. I voted for Green Party candidates in my state (Illinois) and saw that ten percent of the voters did likewise despite gross unfairness to their party and the access they have to the media. This shows me that a huge number of people have woken up to the fact that Republicrats and the Dempublicans are really just two sides of the same coin, both controlled by large corporations and other special interests which give them the billions of dollars needed to maintain control and keep any third parties from fairly competing.
(Well, cheer up, my friends! Do not despair. I have good news for you. I, and the millions of others who are now in charge with our Democratic Congress, have a pledge we would like to make to you, a list of promises that we offer you because we value you as our fellow Americans. You deserve to know what we plan to do with our newfound power -- and, to be specific, what we will do to you and for you.)
Gosh Michael, I didn’t know you had run for office and become such a huge, powerful figure in the Democratic Party. Well, in any case, I’m glad you decided to take it on yourself to become their spokesman. Perhaps you will listen better than they seem able to. As for the millions of others, I voted for a Democrat, am I in charge now? Somehow, I don’t think so. If I was, we’d already be on our way out of Iraq and many arrests would have taken place at the highest levels of government. Well, let’s just see how well the Democrats will do in the upcoming session of congress. I hope that my suggestions will be taken seriously, after all, actions do speak louder than words.
(Thus, here is our Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives:
Dear Conservatives and Republicans,
I, and my fellow signatories, hereby make these promises to you:
1.We will always respect you for your conservative beliefs. We will never, ever, call you "unpatriotic" simply because you disagree with us. In fact, we encourage you to dissent and disagree with us.)
Great! Excellent! The first thing you can do is tell Nancy Pelosi and the rest of the Democratic Party not to introduce or vote for any “Hate Speech” bill. It is every person’s right in this country to be able to engage in free speech and give his opinion no matter how hateful, how disgusting, how disagreeable this speech is. It is better that someone hate another and tell him to let him know where he stands than for that person to pretend he likes them only to let the hatred fester in secret. Any hate speech laws now in existence need to be repealed or overturned as unconstitutional, I don’t care who the hate speech hurts. I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it. That even includes you, Michael, I will fight to the death for your right to say what you want to say, even if it is hateful or spiteful to the conservatives. In the words of Noam Chomsky “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for those we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
2.(We will let you marry whomever you want, even when some of us consider your behavior to be "different" or "immoral." Who you marry is none of our business. Love and be in love -- it's a wonderful gift.)
Most assuredly superb! Let’s start by getting rid of the income tax and any law that takes into consideration marital status. There should be absolutely no laws of state that have anything to do with whether or not a person is married. Marriage should be between two people and their church or God. Governments should have nothing to do with it at all, including the issuing of licenses. Let’s see just how powerful you are, Mr. Moore, and if you can get the federal government to get their noses out of my personal life I will be forever grateful to you.
3. (We will not spend your grandchildren's money on our personal whims or to enrich our friends. It's your checkbook, too, and we will balance it for you.)
LOL. Well, that is sweet. Do you really think the Democrats have not given jobs and sweetheart deals to their financial backers? Are you really that naive? Well, I suppose it’s the thought that counts. If, however, you can somehow get the Democrats to abolish the income tax and replace the Federal Reserve notes we currently use with a gold backed currency issued by the congress of the United States of America which is supposed to be one of their jobs as outlined in the constitution, then you will be well on your way to keeping this promise. Also, lobbying laws need to be changed so that the only people lobbying their representatives are those the representatives actually serve. No money need change hands, no campaign contributions given, and conflicts of interest will disappear. If my labor is not taxed, as it should not be, then it really is my checkbook and I can keep it balanced myself, thank you very much.
4. (When we soon bring our sons and daughters home from Iraq, we will bring your sons and daughters home, too. They deserve to live. We promise never to send your kids off to war based on either a mistake or a lie.)
How very magnanimous of you. When will this be? The Democrats seem to have little idea of how to accomplish this. To me it’s easy. Get out. Get out now. We already won the war, we defeated the Iraqi army and got rid of Saddam. We found no weapons of mass destruction. We are not losing a war, we are losing an occupation, an occupation we should have never started in the first place. What are the Democrats doing about this? They are planning to increase the number of troops. They are planning on giving a free pass to Bush and his regime even though they lied us into this war and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands. This is one promise I really hope you are able to keep, Mr. Moore, but I will not hold my breath waiting.
5. (When we make America the last Western democracy to have universal health coverage, and all Americans are able to get help when they fall ill, we promise that you, too, will be able to see a doctor, regardless of your ability to pay. And when stem cell research delivers treatments and cures for diseases that affect you and your loved ones, we'll make sure those advances are available to you and your family, too.)
And so doctors have to follow the rules of the government as they again decide to stick their nose into my business? If the laws regulating health care were done away with and I was allowed to explore my own health care possibilities, wouldn’t that make health care cheaper? Shouldn't government be concerned with governing and not with health care? Shouldn’t I be allowed to pick any medication I choose for the disease I have without a note from my doctor? Government involvement with health care should be as minimal as possible. Perhaps if the Dempublicans and Republicrats were to stop taking bribes, I mean campaign contributions, from pharmaceutical companies health care would not be so inaccessible and expensive in this country.
6. (Even though you have opposed environmental regulation, when we clean up our air and water, we, the Democratic majority, will let you, too, breathe the cleaner air and drink the purer water.)
Fantastic! I think it’s disgusting how we’ve polluted this world, especially when we have the technology and the means to stop it. Let’s start by telling the Dempublicans and Republicrats to stop taking money from the power and oil industry. We can encourage the development of solar and wind energies and things like the electric cars they so recently destroyed in California. We human beings, all seven billion of us, can live in harmony with this world if we would just put a little effort into it.
7. (Should a mass murderer ever kill 3,000 people on our soil, we will devote every single resource to tracking him down and bringing him to justice. Immediately. We will protect you.)
Most excellent! I am so happy to hear this. Start by impeaching Bush and Cheney for their utter incompetence in that matter. Oh, wait, Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have already said impeachment is off the table, that it wasn’t worth the time and effort. But not to worry. I’m sure that with your new found pull, Mr. Moore, you’ll be able to put impeachment back on the table. Just tell them that justice is never a waste of time.
8. (We will never stick our nose in your bedroom or your womb. What you do there as consenting adults is your business. We will continue to count your age from the moment you were born, not the moment you were conceived.)
I commend the Democratic Party for their past record on this matter. I don’t know of any laws they’ve passed contrary to this position, but I could be wrong.
9. (We will not take away your hunting guns. If you need an automatic weapon or a handgun to kill a bird or a deer, then you really aren't much of a hunter and you should, perhaps, pick up another sport. We will make our streets and schools as free as we can from these weapons and we will protect your children just as we would protect ours.)
Why do the Democrats keep trying to overturn the 2nd amendment of the constitution? Stop messing with my constitution! I don’t like guns. I don’t own one, but I know how to use one. I respect them. I don’t try to prevent anyone from owning one, especially to protect their homes in this day and age, and I don’t expect anyone else to try to take this right from the people.
10. (When we raise the minimum wage, we will pay you -- and your employees -- that new wage, too. When women are finally paid what men make, we will pay conservative women that wage, too.)
Super! I haven’t had a raise in five years. I certainly would like one. I’m hard working and very good at what I do, in fact I’m one of the best. I manage my department. Still, I can’t get a raise because there are so many people looking for work and so many illegal aliens in this country that can replace me for less money, even though they would not do as good a job which is why I still have a job. Perhaps rather than raising the minimum wage the Democratic Party could work on securing our borders and deporting illegal (and they are illegal because they are here unlawfully) aliens. But wait, they’re for blanket amnesty! What are they trying to do to the lower class they claim they’re trying to help? Ship out or document the illegals and the wages will increase as there will no longer be a cheap labor base to draw from. In fact, when we bring our troops home from the unjust wars in Iraq and Afghanistan we can use them to defend our borders as they were meant to do.
11. (We will respect your religious beliefs, even when you don't put those beliefs into practice. In fact, we will actively seek to promote your most radical religious beliefs ("Blessed are the poor," "Blessed are the peacemakers," "Love your enemies," "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," and "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."). We will let people in other countries know that God doesn't just bless America, he blesses everyone. We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world.)
I don’t understand why the listed beliefs are radical and why the Democrats would promote them. This government shouldn’t promote any religion according to the first amendment. We need to do away with “faith based initiatives,” a bad idea from the start. I agree we should respect everyone’s religious beliefs, be they Christian, Pagan, Muslim or a witch. I agree we should all discourage religious intolerance. However, I do not agree that this should be codified into law or that they should use religious intolerance as a reason to pass “Hate Speech” laws. BTW, if that part about the eye of the needle and the camel is true, you may be in trouble.
12. (We will not tolerate politicians who are corrupt and who are bought and paid for by the rich. We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST. If we fail to do this, we need you to call us on it. Simply because we are in power does not give us the right to turn our heads the other way when our party goes astray. Please perform this important duty as the loyal opposition.)
LMFAO. That’s a good one. You have a great sense of humor, Mr. Moore. Oh, wait a minute. You’re serious. What do you think the Republicrats and Dempublicans have been doing for decades? You can’t possibly believe that anyone in the two major parties aren’t so compromised as to be completely clean. Let’s start with Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic leadership who refuse to impeach President Bush for his many high crimes and misdemeanors. By not pursuing this important congressional oversight she and others are complicit in these crimes. This is corruption at its worst. They also refuse to repeal important legislation that needs to be repealed such as the unconstitutional Patriot Acts and the Military Commissions Act. These laws are unconstitutional and ill conceived yet the Democrats have said they will not pursue repealing these acts, making them complicit in enabling the administration to break laws and treaties they should not be allowed to break. Reversing these unconstitutional laws and impeaching the administration should be the first things on the agenda when the congress convenes in January as to make sure that the United States of America goes back to using the rule of law and reclaims its moral standing in the world. Lastly, this congress needs to look into taking money from lobbyists such as AIPAC, the PRC, and other special interests that don’t even represent Americans but foreign interests. These should be especially illegal and any money found to be taken from such groups should be returned immediately. Laws should be passed to prevent such lobbyists from operating in our government with very severe punishments served. I’m sure, Mr. Moore, that with your newfound power in the Democratic Party you will be able to clean up the corruption immediately.
(I promise all of the above to you because this is your country, too. You are every bit as American as we are. We are all in this together. We sink or swim as one. Thank you for your years of service to this country and for giving us the opportunity to see if we can make things a bit better for our 300 million fellow Americans -- and for the rest of the world.
Michael Moore
(Click here to sign the pledge)
P.S. Please feel free to pass this on.)
Well, this is my country. I was born here. This is supposed to be a country of freedom, but it no longer is. It reminds me in so many ways of what the USSR was when I was a kid. I blame the Democrats as much as the Republicans. As I said earlier, I am nothing but a blue collar slave. All I want is the fairness to return to government, justice to be done, and opportunity to be presented to me on level with everyone else.
Those currently in power have tried their best to destroy the constitution and install a dictatorship that kills the freedoms we have come to enjoy and imprisons those who dissent. Your words are hollow, Mr. Moore, and your promises are empty. They can only be filled by actions. For the longest time I have been shut out of the process because it was hijacked by the duopoly of Dempublicans vs. Republicrats, Liberals vs. Conservatives, or whatever you want to call it. I sincerely hope that your words and promises become filled and the Democrats suddenly become the party of the people. I hope the rich corporate interests that have bought them are shut out of the process as the people’s rights are re-established and the rights given to the corporations are rescinded since they are not living entities. We will be keeping a close eye on their actions over the next few months. Hopefully, their actions will live up to your flowery words and will stay in the bounds of the constitution. I seriously doubt it, however. They are already turning away from their duties before they even take office. I hope for the sake of our country that should the Democrats fail to perform their duties, as is likely, that the people awaken and finally realize we need to elect third party candidates into office. You, Michael, are a famous documentary maker. Perhaps you should use your talent to bring us the truth about both parties rather than being a partisan propagandist. Perhaps when you put the truth before money you will reclaim your soul.