Ideology Versus Practicality

I’ve touched on this topic in the past, but I recently watched an interview on the Rubin Report that refocused my attention on the idea of how what we believe in isn’t always possible in the purest form. We all have ideas of what an ideal world would look like, and would be quite excited if it could somehow come to pass, but reality requires that even the best of ideas is tempered by the parts of life we can’t control. Utopia is a great concept, but is ultimately impossible.

For myself, I believe in maximum freedom with minimum interference from others. The perfect version of society from my point of view would be one where I can do what I want when I want however I want as long as what I’m doing isn’t causing harm to anyone else. My life is my responsibility and no one has any right to dictate anything to me. You do your thing; I do my thing. It should be that simple.

Unfortunately this concept is subject to exactly what I stated in the beginning. If every person agreed with this philosophy, it would work out just fine, but with billions of people on this little rock it becomes far more complicated. This is especially true because different environments breed different ideologies, many of which conflict with each other. Conflict can be resolved in one of two ways: compromise or force.

Most people are averse to the risks associated with the force option. In a situation like that, one side or the other ends up getting everything they want, but if you’re on the losing side then you’re stuck with whatever the result happens to be. It’s an all or nothing solution that, although the rewards can be quite high, the risk rises up to match it. Like all forms of gambling, most people tend to back away when the stakes are high enough.

That leaves us with compromise, which is the basis of how any functioning society really works. We have to let go of some of our particular viewpoints to reach an agreement with those around us to find a peaceful way to coexist. When both sides are willing to make small sacrifices for the greater good to gain a mutually beneficial outcome, we see the rise of great nations such as the United States.

Of course, when we become entitled to our own point of view and we lose the ability to make those small sacrifices to keep the peace, then we start to see the kind of fracturing that we have witnessed over the last several decades. As we continue to grow more and more intolerant of people with differing opinions and stick to the strictest form of our own ideology, we begin to drive a wedge between us and those on the other side. As the chasm grows, the shift from compromise to force becomes more and more likely.

The funny thing is that sometimes jumping to force straight away can be the most peaceful solution available. For too long the more conservative minded in our country have been willing to make compromises in the wrong areas while the other side gladly takes the mile we never intended to give. Had we stuck to our guns on the important issues and not allowed them to be eroded, we might have a better position from which to negotiate. Unfortunately, our own philosophy may have caused us to shoot ourselves in the foot.

You see, modern conservatism is very much about freedom and everyone being able to do their own thing. Where this runs aground is when we start to realize that the other side willingly groups together to consolidate their strength. Because of this, though our numbers are equivalent to theirs, we tend to be more fractured because we dislike the idea of being ruled by others. We go our own way, and when the prey is separated from the pack we become easy pickings.

As contrary to our nature as it might be, the only effective way forward is to meet fire with fire by compromising on some of our ways so that we can be effective where it counts most. Libertarians and Republicans and conservative minded independents have to forego our natural tendency to do our own thing and band together to fight what we see as the evil ideologies that exist today. Failure to do so will result in a world that doesn’t resemble anything we believed it could be.

In the end, ideologies are great concepts, but must be tempered by reality. We will never have anything in the perfect way we always imagined and we must be willing to settle for what is good enough. It may not be pleasant to hear, but necessity will always dictate our course of action. If we ignore those dictates, then we have only ourselves to blame when the walls come tumbling down.

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When Did We Become So Thin-skinned?

I grew up in the late 80’s and 90’s. At that point in our history, America had a certain attitude about things. We were the premier nation in the world and we were unapologetic about it. There was little mincing of words and we were just fine saying what we thought. The feelings of others were of little concern to us because we were far more concerned about the truth than catering to the whims and emotions of the frail. It was a time when we still believed in the idea that strong people were to be respected and the weak could go sit in the corner until they figure out how to grow up and be an adult.

These days the climate has shifted drastically. It has become crystal clear that the focus is no longer on getting things done the best way possible. Rather it is far more about placing an emphasis on some ephemeral emotional quotient that can’t really be measured. Rather than cold, hard facts that determine how things are going, we have turned to people’s opinions. In a world like this it has become nearly impossible to navigate with any certainty.

The thing is that I really don’t believe that most people are truly on board with this way of thinking. Nearly the entire voting public is around my age or older, which means that we all grew up in the same era. To be sure many of my generation wished things to be different, but I have to imagine that most of us share the same basic point of view when it comes to how to deal with reality. We might not agree on policy, but we had to live in a time when your feelings came second to results.

How then have we come to this point? I could certainly be wrong and perhaps I’m somehow in a super minority, but my experiences growing up and living before the second decade of the twenty first century tells me that for the most part people agree with the traditional way of doing things. It’s only the very disgruntled people who end up wanting to buck the old way in the desperate hope that their way can somehow work. A track record of progress doesn’t seem to matter.

There are certainly things that need to change and improve, and our history shows that we have always had those who are willing to stand up and fight for what we always knew was morally correct. The problem we’re facing now is that we’re starting to run out of things to fight about. Few of us are imposing our prejudices on others anymore, our business world is highly regulated to prevent exploitation, and the average person makes more than enough money to make ends meet. But we still feel the need to find heroes to go out and right the wrongs.

So rather than focusing on getting something meaningful accomplished, the leaders in our society have shifted our focus to trivial issues to keep us at each others’ throats. This has turned us all into overly sensitive, thin-skinned people who can’t seem to deal with the opinions of others. We are forced to walk around on eggshells because so many people are ready to fly off the handle about the smallest perceived slight.

Of course, this isn’t a real thing. What we’re seeing is what the manipulators of our systems want us to see. Most of us aren’t like these ridiculous people. They just want us to think that we are. Just about every person you meet will simply brush off whatever you say, assuming you aren’t going out of your way to be offensive. Society wouldn’t function if we all walked around getting highly offended at every possible phrase.

What we are struggling with today is a war of perception. The media and leadership want us to believe that people are clamoring for change, but I think the reality is that we’ve never had it better and most people know it. What the average person wants is to simply live his life in peace, gaining as much success as possible and striving to attain his dreams. Everything else we’re seeing today is a combination of contrived theater to boost the ratings of failing media companies combined with a very loud vocal minority who gets support because our attention is grabbed by a “just cause”.

The only way we can start getting back to any semblance of a normal America is to do what we normally find reprehensible. We need to start shunning the people who run around stirring up trouble. We believe in freedom of speech, and I would never advocate silencing anyone. However there needs to be a concerted effort to make it clear that we disagree with those opinions so that these vocal minorities stop gaining so much power and influence. It is when we feel alone that we are powerless, and the more of us who stand up and make our voices heard, the better chance we have of living in the world most of us want to live in.

What do you think about catering to personal opinions? Should we bend over backwards for the desires of a few, or should there be a general consensus of viewpoints? Can a society function if we have no common ground? We fight about a lot of things, but at the core we are all Americans and we share a history and legacy that has shaped us into who we are today. It is important to remember what we stand for, even as we look to the future.

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The Demise of Police Departments

We are living in what can only be described as the beginning of the end of American society. I wish I could be optimistic about our future, but it’s very difficult to see anything other than doom and gloom when I watch the public at large standing by with complete indifference as the structures that make our country work are torn down indiscriminately. Insane ideas and policies that would have never seen the light of days just a few decades ago are espoused as amazing leaps forward.

While the craziness of things like gender disputes and communist ideologies being proposed as normal don’t sit well with most of us, perhaps the most dangerous set of events going on right now is the failure of our system of police departments. If I’m perfectly honest, I’ve never been particularly fond of law enforcement, primarily because my interaction with them has been solely in the realm of traffic enforcement and I’m not a fan of the way our traffic laws work. They get the unfortunate brunt of my dissatisfaction about the way our society has decided travel is safe.

However, the events in our most recent history have shifted to paint our law enforcement officers as villains to be overcome rather than enforcers of the peace. Some of this is warranted due to the behavior of a select few personnel who have acted with grievous misconduct, but applying these incidents to police in general is quite irresponsible. The vast majority of police officers are good people just trying to do the best job they can.

To be clear, I’m not necessarily a fan of the concept of law enforcement. I know I’m being a bit confusing and might sound contradictory, but sometimes what you think is theoretically the best way versus what actually works in reality are two very different things. Philosophically, I believe that we should each be responsible for our own lives and safety. That means having whatever means is necessary to protect our own lives an property. It should not be up to an outside organization to protect me from harm.

At the same time, I recognize the fact that there are just too many people with too many different ways of thinking for this philosophy to work in its purest form. In that world, roving gangs of opportunists would simply overpower individuals, which is why we live in a society of shared values. By grouping together and agreeing to certain terms, we protect ourselves from the elements of society that has no problem with harming others for their own selfish gains.

So while I’m not a fan of the idea of police, a logical analysis of the good versus bad of it leads to the only possible conclusion: we need to have a system in place that at least attempts to reign in the chaos. There are many differing philosophies on how to do this, and I lean toward maximum freedom for the individual and maximum restriction to law enforcement, but there is no doubt that some form of protection is warranted.

When I watch the citizens of our country banding together to bring down one of the core services we have relied on to protect those who can’t protect themselves, it forces me to believe that, like many of the great civilizations of history, we have decayed so far in our morality that we have little hope of recovering. When the public decides that law and order are no longer worth having and it’s completely fine to have criminals roving the streets, looting and pillaging their way through private property, it’s hard to see anything less than an impending fall.

No one can really predict how this will all play out. It might be that we all finally wake up and stop listening to and being afraid of these hyper-liberal crazy people who advocate ridiculous ideas that just don’t work in a polite society. Or we’ll continue cowering in fear while we watch what was once a nation of good people descend into the darkness with nothing more than a whimper of protest. It’s up to each one of us to decide which it will be.

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What Do We Do About the Coming Market Crash?

I try to balance the doom and gloom on this blog with positive philosophies about life, but sometimes the topics I have available to me at a given time end up having certain priorities. Something has been brewing for quite some time but is only just now starting to percolate through the mainstream news media to begin making the public aware of something that will once again shock the nation to the very core. Experts are beginning to predict a serious crash sometime this year, perhaps within the next couple of months.

By itself, a stock market crash isn’t really that big of a deal. They happen on a semi-regular basis and most of the time it results in a noticeable but manageable downturn in the economy. Some businesses might close and many people might lose their jobs, but for the most part the country moves on without much notice. Well, people who work in the financial markets certainly notice, but average people like you and I pay very little attention.

What’s different about this crash is that we are adding in several factors that aren’t normally present during an economic downturn. The first of these is that we just spent the last year struggling to get through a pandemic that shut down much of the world, and we are already having to work much harder to claw our way back to any sense of normalcy. Second, the government has printed so much money to cover the various stimulus packages and bailout plans that we are either nearing or have already surpassed the point of hyper-inflation.

A crash alone is enough to make people reasonably nervous about the future. When the market starts to decline, it’s a sure sign that someone is going to lose. With any luck, it only affects investors who participate knowing what the risks are and are willing to accept them. Unfortunately, most of the time these changes affect normal people who just want to have a secure source of income to support themselves and their families.

This next crash is being hyped up as the next “Great Depression“, and while I normally wouldn’t bother to pay much attention to exaggerations such as this, the combination of different things all coming together at one point in time makes me believe that maybe this isn’t as far fetched as it initially sounds. Our money is rapidly becoming less valuable, our access to goods that were normally abundant has been significantly reduced, and energy costs have increased to the point where many are starting to struggle to cope with it. Here in California gas has jumped back up to more than $4.20 per gallon for basic unleaded.

So what do we do with all this information? For the average person, there simply isn’t much we can do. These are the kinds of things that require constant maneuvering over the course of our lives to buffer against. Making good investments can pull someone through relatively unscathed, even in the worst of economic times, but only if you have the ability to support yourself until the end of a downturn. If you end up having to sell off your stocks or real estate or whatever else you invested to put food on the table, no amount of investing will save you.

In the end, all we can really do is try to limit our spending and put away as much as we can in the event that the worst happens and we have to struggle through an extended period of time without whatever income we’re accustomed to. Our system of government is such that we are unlikely to starve, but guarding against repossessions or becoming homeless is a real concern that many people may deal with firsthand.

The first step in avoiding the hazards of life is becoming aware of them, and the true point of this article isn’t to tell you what to do but to make you aware that there is a potentially huge change looming on our horizon. Just like we would for a hurricane or other foreseeable natural disaster, we must start making what preparations we can to weather the financial storm that may be in our immediate future. Take some time to do some reading about what’s going on and start taking what actions you can to mitigate your risk. With planning and a little luck, we can come out on the other side unscathed.

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What Does a Free Nation Look Like?

In our modern world we struggle with many different threats that draw our attention away from what is most important in our lives. The United States has so many enemies that would love to cause us harm and pull us down out of their own hatred for what we have accomplished in just a couple of centuries. It is a natural thing for human beings to prefer making someone else less rather than putting in the work to make themselves more. It’s always easier to hate than to love.

It used to be that everything moved slowly enough for us to keep up with it, but now there are so many things happening so quickly that we struggle to stay on top of most of the threats we face. Terrorism has become a common thing now, and even though we have become used to the idea of it we are unable to conquer our fear of it. Many people spend quite a lot of time worrying about being hurt by some kind of attack.

The interesting thing is that in some parts of the world this might be quite a reasonable fear, but here in the United States there is little reason to worry. We have the strongest military in the world, so no force would risk a real confrontation with us. Our intelligence service is second to none, so the big groups would have a very hard time causing any significant harm before we noticed and stopped them. The only real threats we have are those who are too small to get noticed, and there really isn’t much that can be done about that.

Knowing this, it never ceases to amaze me that we continue to do things to restrict our own lives in the vain hope that if we put enough measures in place we can somehow mitigate the threat of terrorism. It is this utopian idea that if we just keep trying we can somehow create a world that is perfectly safe and free from risk. This is an incredibly flawed perspective, not only because eliminating risk entirely just isn’t possible, but also because the things we would have to do to even approach this kind of “safety” just isn’t palatable to most people.

The only way to decrease the chances of something bad happening is to start removing variables. The problem is that we Americans have build our society on freedom of choice for the individual, which by definition is exactly opposed to safe environment. When people have the ability to decide for themselves, the brutal reality is that some people are going to choose evil. That’s just the way it works.

This isn’t anything new. Philosophers have understood this dichotomy of safety versus freedom since the very beginning. Ben Franklin famously stated that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Truer words have rarely been spoken, especially when we begin to understand that safety is and always has been a devious illusion.

No matter how many rules we put in place, human beings are unique individuals with their own thoughts and ideas and values. You cannot legislate behavior, especially when there are so many people in our society who disagree about so many things. Some of those people are going to take action based on what they believe in, and many times that will include some form of violence. This can’t be helped; it is a part of human interaction.

As certain political parties continue to move forward in an attempt to combat what can’t be defeated, they propose that we give up our liberties for the vague promise of some kind of safety. Words such as “domestic terrorism” are thrown around because it sounds scary and they believe it will convince us to do what we’re told so we can all be safe. Those of us who know better can do little more than laugh at the arrogance and stupidity of such people.

America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, and will be for as long as we remember what made us the beacon of light for the entire world. Our politicians may have given up on our country, but the citizens who grew up here or fought through trials and tribulations to get here understand the value of what America is. They will not allow greed and fear and the lust for power to fully contaminate what we have built. In the end, America will fight back against such things and we will remember what our flag represents.

What does a free nation look like? It looks like America, and it is the model that the rest of the world envies and wishes they could emulate. It is the shining example of what a great society can be. We have proven that it is our desire to give each and every citizen the ability to make the best out of their own lives that makes us stronger, because when we are each free to reach our own potential we are all the better for it.

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The Terror of Public Perception

Things have changed from the way they were not so long ago. For most of human history we have been primarily concerned with our own survival, prompted into action whenever the circumstances required that we perform some specific action to ensure that our future was more or less secure. We were always cognizant of the things going on around us, but for the most part the drama was confined to our own little corner of the world.

These days things are very different. While technology has provided the average person with a quality of life far better than even the most powerful kings of our ancient history, it has also provided a powerful means of mass population control in the form of propaganda. For those who understand this and how it can be used to change the way people think about things, it is a powerful tool to gain power and control over large numbers of people.

Many of the things that we have been told in the last year have turned out to be completely false. We were first told that certain minimal intrusions in our lives in the form of masks and social distancing would be required to “slow the spread” of the COVID-19 virus, which as can see now was never intended to be brief. First masks were claimed to be unnecessary, which we later found out was due to a fear of supply shortages for medical personnel, then later we were all urged to wear two (or even three) masks; studies have always shown that nearly all masks are ineffective against airborne viruses. We were told that the disease likely came from wet markets in Wuhan, but we now know that key people always knew that the virus most likely came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

Very little of what we are told on a daily basis is completely true without any caveats. Spin is the order of the day in our political landscape, twisting the truth as much as it takes to avoid outright lies while still getting us to believe what they want us to believe. It has become very difficult to trust anyone who enters public service because the problem is so prevalent that many of us default to assuming that anyone with a public title has their own interests, or the interests of their political party, as the primary goal. There are probably more honest politicians than we think, but with so many lies told so often, it’s hard to tell.

Despite all the lies and manipulation, where it really becomes scary is when we consider the reaction of the public to such things. Most people are ready and willing to accept just about anything from anyone if the perceived consequences are grave enough and the information is presented in just the right way. People were all too ready to bend over backward to accommodate the recommendations of government medical “professionals” such as Anthony Fauci, handing over the rights we’ve held dear for more than two centuries in the vague hope that our compliance would somehow help.

What do we do when the public will no longer has the wherewithal to hold up against those who would infringe on our most basic freedoms? When did we become a nation that values safety over liberty? There was a time not so long ago that the average person would have rose up in arms over the restrictions that we passively accepted for more than a year. We are all too ready to give up our independence and allow others to control our lives for us. Perhaps we believe it’s easier that way.

The scary part for me is that the last year will likely result in a new “normal” that makes things like masks and social distancing at least a minor part of our daily lives moving forward. We’ve proven to the people who want control that we can be convinced to change the way we see the world and conform to a new paradigm. It will be a relatively slow, gradual change that will see us giving up freedom after freedom as the people in power firm up their grasp on those of us who don’t have the resources to fight back.

If this sounds like a conspiracy theory, I understand your position. However, sometimes reality is stranger than fiction and it may become clear one day soon that the people who have been railing against big government for decades turned out to be right about everything. One day we will look up and finally see that the world we thought we lived in doesn’t exist anymore. It is nothing but a vague memory of the past, replaced by a future dominated by manipulation and greed. A world where we return to the primal principles of “survival of the fittest”. Perhaps it is too late to change it, or perhaps not. We can only find out if we try.

What do you think about public manipulation? Are there any truly good leaders out there anymore, or is everyone just out for themselves? What would it take to turn things around and get our society back to a place where we stand up for the values our nation was founded on? These are hard questions, and if we knew the answers we would already be taking action. Unfortunately, with so many people with so many different points of view, it becomes nearly impossible to bring enough people together for real action.

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Why is Everything “Institutional”?

I spend a great deal of my time wandering the internet in search of information. Sometimes it’s news articles to keep up to date with current events. Other times it might be podcasts trying to get another perspective on a particular issue. If I’m perfectly honest, a lot of it is simply watching YouTube in an effort to pass the time. Regardless of how those efforts turn out, I inevitably come across something from the news media that makes me shake my head in disgust.

For today’s post, it was an “independent study” that found that the Virginia Military Institute exhibits “institutional racism and sexism”. According to the group, the Institute has no specific rules or regulations that allow or encourage this type of behavior, but the people there still engage in activity that displays a “culture of hatred”. As one might expect, they recommend a radical reform plan to the entire program there and close supervision of the process to ensure that the Institute is making the required changes.

You’ll notice a lot of quotation marks in this particular entry, which makes my position on the matter fairly clear. As a former service member, I have a hard time dealing with people who step into a situation that is completely foreign to them and imagine that they have any qualification whatsoever to determine what is appropriate behavior in that specific environment. Inevitably, it is the “touchy feely” people who go into these places with no reasonable point of reference for what they’re looking at and make sweeping judgements based on their own view of what is acceptable.

What these people don’t understand is that the military is not the place you want to start removing aggressive behavior. The men and women who volunteer for anything related military service are being groomed for a very specific purpose: to overcome the dangerous obstacles placed before our nation. To do this requires a hard hard and an unbreakable spirit. There is little room for weakness or understanding or adherence to popular opinion. It is about the fight; nothing else.

Understand that no reasonable member of the military, including those of us who have moved on, would ever advocate truly evil behavior. There has been obvious examples of inappropriate behavior in the name of military training that was used as a cover to allow bad people to behave in horrible ways. This rogue activity is unacceptable in any organization and should be stopped, especially when it involves physical violence.

Where many of us disagree is when it comes to what some people might consider “emotional abuse”. Of course no one wants to be subjected to harsh treatment or unfair bias or any of the negative things we all want to avoid, but the entire point of military training is to prepare us for an environment that cares nothing for our feelings. In a combat environment, the enemy has no concern for offending you. The stakes are simply far higher than that; they aren’t interested in your feelings, they want your life.

One might be tempted to suggest that not all military members will see combat, thus it is not appropriate for all to be subjected to this type of treatment. However, what this does not consider is that the best militaries in history have been the ones where every member, regardless of their duty, is prepared to pick up a weapon and fight. Without emotional toughness, this simply isn’t possible. A weak person is an ineffective person.

In the end, we know what we want from our military, and they are experts at producing the kind of people who can accomplish that mission. For us to step in trying to make changes as observers looking in from the outside is foolish and irresponsible. It weakens what has been the finest fighting force the world has ever seen and undermines everything that so many laid down their lives for over the last two centuries. Should we accept hatred in our military? Of course not, but we must learn to see the difference between hate and tough leadership.

What do you think about military culture? Is it dated and bigoted, or is there some usefulness to the way the environment works? Have you experienced it for yourself, or can you only stand on the outside looking in? We tend to judge what we don’t understand without having all the facts, and many times it is important to gain a bit of perspective before we jump in feet first trying to fix something that might not be broken in the first place.

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An Infantile Leader

We live in a ridiculous time. Yes, there are many awesome things going on in the world of technology and we have access to more information and more options and more everything than in any time in human history. However, at the same time as we have all these amazing things, we have an astounding lack of access to quality leaders willing to step into the limelight to push our country in the right direction. It is a wonder to me that we are still able to function in this crazy time.

I simply don’t understand how we’ve come to the point of having leaders who are so old that they can’t even function on their own strength. Our current President is simply a talking piece for the radical left and has never really been in control of anything. His own history shows that he isn’t particularly interested in the agenda that he has been forced to accept, but his desire to be President trumped his own morality, so there he sits in the White House as a puppet to those who have more sinister goals.

Among these are the extreme plans to attempt to close the supposed “racial wealth gap”, a ridiculous plan to try and life up certain groups of people out of economic difficulty by spending money giving them a handout rather than a hand up. You see, that’s all the government can ever really do: take money from one group to spend it somewhere else. Real economic prosperity comes from those who actually create jobs, not checks from the government.

The problem is that people are easily enticed by the trojan horse that is free money. This isn’t specific to one group. I would never label any particular ethnic group as lazy because they accept no strings attached funding from Uncle Sam. Any of us can fall victim to that. The stimulus checks of 2020 are a testament to the fact that laziness and greed are endemic to all human beings.

This is where the evil of far left radicalization really sets in. These people don’t even know the horrible things they’re doing in an effort to “help people out”. They apparently never learned the concept that “you can give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” If you haven’t heard this before, it simply means that giving someone something for free takes care of them for a bit, but if you want them to find success for life you have to actually teach them to get what they need on their own.

Human beings are always looking for the path of least resistance, though, so it is not in our nature to seek the hard path on our own. That particular method is usually forced on us because no one else is going to do it for us. We have to get our own food, make our own money, find our own place to live, and any other number of things that are our own responsibility to resolve. They are hard things to deal with, so when someone comes along offering to take that load off our shoulders, we are naturally willing to jump at the opportunity to be lazy.

Who do we blame for this situation? Not the groups of people willing to take the hand out. It is our natural compulsion to do so. If not the people receiving the benefits, then there is only one other option: those who are giving them out. It is our leadership that is failing to provide an environment that is ripe for people to thrive and they are directly responsible for the situation we now find ourselves in. A lack of any sense of morality combined with unlimited greed for power has left us with a group of people who are incentivized to create victims rather than citizens.

It is long past time for Americans to stop placing our faith in these incompetent people and start turning away from this centralized form of government. We excel so much more when each of us is able to do what is best in the unique situations we find ourselves in. There are simply too many people for a “one size fits all” mentality, and the sins of the past are far enough behind us that they are no longer an excuse for lack of performance. It’s time to get off our butts and start getting to work.

What do you think of handouts? How about the current administration? Do you like your money going to people who aren’t doing anything to earn it? How much time has to pass before the bad things in our past are no longer an excuse for failure? At some point, we need an awakening in our society that says we will no longer put up with those who refuse to put in the effort, as well as a rejection of those who place their own power and influence over the good of the people they are supposed to be serving.

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Do We Need Constitutional Carry?

I’ve been trying to avoid writing this article. I’ve made my position clear in the past on my position regarding firearms and the place I think they should have in our society. I’m not a fan of rehashing topics over and over, but sometimes you just have to revisit things from time to time when they are as important as this. There are few things today more controversial than the idea of gun control, and it is one of the most dividing issues we have ever faced in this country. No matter where you stand on the subject, it is likely that the person sitting next to you has quite a different view on the subject, if any at all.

One of the big reasons it has become such an issue is that we have a media that has lost the relevance it once had and is desperate to find a niche in the new world of online information. They no longer have a monopoly on our attention in the form of nightly news broadcasts because we now have access to a multitude of different sources of up to date articles and videos giving us minute by minute details on situations unfolding in all parts of the world, usually right on the device we carry in our pockets. It is difficult to compete with that sort of access.

This desperation has caused a shift in the way that media companies do business. Rather than maintaining their status as purveyors of facts that they distribute to the public, they filter out anything that doesn’t drive up the ratings. What this means in a practical sense is that when it comes to issues like firearms we end up receiving an inordinate amount of coverage of things like mass shootings. Of course these are terrible events, but in a nation of hundreds of millions of people in a society as narcissistic as ours has become, these events are actually very rare.

To get some perspective on this, let’s put down some hard numbers. There are more than 328 million people in the United States. In 2020 there were 614 mass shootings that killed 446 people and injured 2,515 others for a total of 3,061 total people affected by these high profile events over the course of the year. Using basic math, that means that a total of 0.0009% of the entire population of the United States was involved in any way at all in some form of mass shooting. Given that nearly three quarters of a million people are raped every year and murder rates are higher than they’ve been in a very long time, I think we have bigger things to focus our attention on.

I point all of this out because mass shootings are the tool being used by gun control advocates to shock us into lining up with their way of thinking. We all feel bad when we have to see a group of people being killed by some crazy person with a gun, especially when it involves children. It forces us to think about our own mortality and sparks powerful protective urges we have for our kids. The thought of something like that happening to our own family is a powerful emotional tool that is being used to convince us to disarm ourselves for “the good of the nation”.

The problem with this is that the reality is that people who want to do terrible things like this aren’t going to be deterred by laws attempting to limit access to firearms. If history is any indicator, and it is, the prohibition of anything results in a vast underground black market for said item which results in the item not only not going away, but the addition of a violent criminal element that makes things worse than they were before. Even though firearms are legal in our country, there are many gun smuggling operations from coast to coast to serve those who aren’t able to acquire a weapon legally. You can’t legislate good behavior.

Getting finally to the point of this article, firearm laws are simply not reasonable in any manner, and we’re beginning to see a push in the more conservative states toward this line of thinking. Maybe not as far as I would like to see them go, but definitely steps in the right direction. Most recently, Texas has passed a “Constitutional carry” law that allows its citizens to own and carry a handgun in public without any form of government control or intervention. This is the way it should be everywhere.

The ugly truth is that there are people out there who simply want to hurt others, whether it be for personal gain through taking what you have or just because they’re angry and want to lash out at someone. Despite our desire to place our safety in the hands of some omnipresent, altruistic body such as a government, the reality is that no one is responsible for your safety but you. In the end, when the time comes that you are confronted in the street by a criminal intent on doing you harm, the only person who can stop them is you. When you imagine yourself in that situation, which would you rather have: a phone or a gun?

This is the image that the gun control crowd doesn’t want you to think about. It’s perfectly fine to take a mass shooting and point out the children who were killed, but you can’t do an apples to apples comparison to something like a father protecting his own kids from a home invader or a bystander shooting someone intent on stabbing someone. These situations are just as emotional as a mass shooting, but because they don’t get ratings they don’t get much attention.

If we stop focusing so much on the negative consequences of firearms amongst our populace and start taking a more balanced view, it becomes much more obvious that giving people the choice to defend themselves is a far better option than trying to disarm everyone in the hopes that they will behave. We see time and again that people end up doing what they want anyway, and it is only the law abiding citizens who comply. They are exactly the people we want being armed in the first place, ready to step in when the situation calls for it.

With this in mind, the calls for gun control are just baffling. The truth is that we should be going in the opposite direction, promoting gun education and safety and encouraging our citizens to take their safety in their own hands. At best, the police are a weak deterrent to crime, typically showing up after everything is over to figure out what happened. The odds of an officer being right there when something is happening is very remote. In the moment, it is just you, the criminal and whatever means of self defense you happen to have with you.

What do you think about the idea of Constitutional carry? Is it something that scares you, or are you ready to cast off the restrictions we’ve placed on ourselves and start taking a more active role in your own defense? What reasons can you think of for or against this concept? The polarizing issue of gun control will hardly be solved by a single concept, but this could be one step in the right direction.

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Leadership 101

There was a time when the United States was the premier nation in the world by every metric. We led the world in production, our military was the strongest and best trained, and our social influence dominated every inch of the globe. While much of this is still true, it is clear that America is on the decline. Like most things in life, you can’t stay on top forever, especially if you aren’t willing to do what is necessary to ensure your position is stable from the threats around you.

It all comes down to leadership. It is the key to any organization, from small units in the military performing dangerous missions abroad all the way up to massive nations playing a strategic game of global manipulation. The scale doesn’t matter; if you want to win you must have strong, capable leaders who can make the tough decisions when hard times come around. It is surprising how often those situations come around and how often the correct decision can be the most difficult and unpopular one.

You can find endless volumes of literature on what defines a good leader, and I personally received quite a bit of both theoretical as well as hands on training on the subject of leadership during my eleven years as a United States Marine. I suppose by many standards that makes me an expert, but I never tend to think of myself as an expert on anything. The one thing that time and experience has taught me is that there is no substitute for experience. You have to get in there and do it before any knowledge you’ve gained becomes at all useful.

The point I’m trying to make here is that leaders make mistakes, and we have to be understanding of the growth process that comes with someone choosing to step up to serve others in the kinds of leadership positions we ask to be filled. It takes a great deal of courage to put yourself in the spotlight and have your actions questioned and your character judged on a daily basis. The people who genuinely want to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the people they choose to serve deserve our respect and support.

On the other hand, many people jump into leadership positions not for the benefit of others, but to advance their own agendas. The problem with these sorts of leaders is that they ignore rule number one of leadership: always lead from the front. You see, the only way people truly respect your authority is when you practice what you preach. Obviously you can use fear to get people to do what you want, but that isn’t leadership; it’s coercion. True leaders are not hypocrites. They live their lives the way they tell others to.

Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen numerous examples of people in high leadership positions telling the public to behave in one way while doing exactly the opposite when it suits them. This is a pure example of hypocritical behavior. Virtually no one can respect someone who lives by the “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. If you’re going to put down rules for us to follow, you better well be following those rules yourself. Those who fail to follow their own rules don’t deserve the mantle of leader.

Until we can find a shift in the leadership of our country, I can see little hope that we can turn things around. Our path will continue along our present course until we reach a critical mass, and then some sort of revolution will be required to clean the slate so we can start over again. If we can learn from history, we don’t have to go through this, but it seems that most of us are content to ignore the past and go right on doing all the things that lead to the chaos of civil discontent.

What do you think about leadership in America? Is there anyone left who can turn things around? What would it take to shift our course and get our nation moving in the right direction again? We are still the greatest nation on earth, and we don’t have to go down this dark road we seem set on taking. All it takes is enough people with the right attitude and a true desire to do the right things.

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