What is Liberty?

My wife and I attended a Young Republican BBQ last night. The organizers scheduled four speakers, a state Representative from the eastern side of Missouri, Paul Curtman, two local state Senators, Will Kraus and Ed Emery, and the President of the Missouri Alliance for Freedom, Ryan Johnson.

I don’t think the speakers conferred and selected a topic; their schedules were too varied. When all were finished, all had spoken about the same two items: What is Liberty and what is the purpose of Government?

Paul Curtman spoke how, when he was in the military in Afghanistan, he asked himself why he was there and for what purpose. He studied what was a soldier’s duty and why anyone would assume those duties. That lead him to examine our Constitution closely. His conclusion about the purpose of government, of constitutions, and the nature of liberty was remarkably similar to the conclusions of the others.

Will Kraus, a reservist and officer in the Missouri National Guard, had similar thoughts. He reviewed some of his sponsored legislation and how those bills supported Liberty and constrained the excesses of government.


Ed Emery, Missouri State Senator, District 31

What is Liberty? What is the purpose of government? Ed Emery, the last speaker, closed the discussion saying, “Liberty and purpose of government is defined in the second paragraph of our Declaration of Independence.”

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed[.]

Liberty is ‘certain unalienable Rights, among these are Life and the Pursuit of Happiness.’ The purpose of government is to assist in the achievement of those unalienable Rights. Government has no other purpose than this.

That definition certainly differs with the purpose of government as defined in most of our educational systems and the views of liberals. In our view, the conservative view, government is subordinate and subject to the people. Pubic education and liberals, progressives as they like to call themselves, have the opposite view—people are subordinate to government.

The question now comes to us, how are we to maintain that original viewpoint and return government to its original purpose and definition? That too, has a simple answer—examine and question candidates for office. Examine them closely, their voting records, listen to their speeches, question them ask for their definition of Liberty and Government. If the answers satisfy you, help with their campaigns, help fund those campaigns, and always, always, keep them in you eye and monitor their actions once in office.

Never let them forget they are under scrutiny. The good ones, those officeholders and candidates who support your beliefs in Liberty and Government will appreciate your efforts. Those officeholders and candidates who hide their views from you deserve only your scorn and efforts to remove them from office.

The two questions, define liberty and define government, are easy questions to ask. It should be as simple for officeholders and candidates to answer. It is the duty of the voter to ask, judge, and to support the officeholder or candidate…or his opponent, whomever that may be, who will support Liberty and the Declaration’s definition of the purpose of government.


The government has been shut down for a day now and what’s happened. Obama ordered barricades erected around the WW II and other memorials around DC to prevent WW II vets from making a pilgrimage to their memorials. Yesterday, those vets moved the barricades aside and toured their memorial regardless of the threats of arrest from government peons.

Good for them.

Today, they plan on visiting the Lincoln memorial. Already, government employees are hard at work erecting barricades around it as well.

lincoln_barricadedThere is no reason for these memorials to be barricaded. They are in the open. If the concern is about trash and trash pickup, I’d bet there are plenty of civic organizations willing to step in and keep the memorials clean.

No, the only reason for this is spite. Spite by Obama against those who won’t support his socialist agenda and spite against anyone who may, at some time, oppose him.

If the administration and democrats really want to enrage the nation, all they have to do is to arrest these 90-year old veterans. Many are in wheelchairs and in fragile health. If one of them dies as a result of the mishandling by government goons, I have no doubt, many more, veterans and non-veterans, will be marching to Washington. I saw a passing notice that the Oathkeepers are mobilizing to help these veterans overcome their obstacles.

There are some others who are protesting the shutdown. Who are they? Union government workers, sitting on their butts on the curb holding signs. For many, this is the same activity they do while on the government payroll.

government_union_workersWe only have to look at the ‘non-essential’ percentages to see the waste in government. Ninety-five percent of the IRS, Department of Education, the EPA, Department of the Interior, and many more departments and agencies have massive ‘unessential’ number of employees. I expect, if the shutdown continues, some of these will be declared essential…to satisfy the unions if for nothing else.

In the meantime, Harry Reid and House democrats continue blocking every proposal. Fund the military—blocked, remove the Obamacare subsidies for Congress—blocked, fund individual agencies like the Border Patrol—blocked. The democrats can’t blame the ‘Pubs for this shutdown. It has been carefully orchestrated by Reid and Obama.

So, as I write this, what is the headline on Drudge?


Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio has a trip scheduled to depart from Toledo next Wednesday, October 9.

“We will make the call this Friday to determine if the flight is still a go, or if we will have to re-schedule,” Armstrong explains.

He says they are considering going ahead with the trip even if the government is still on shutdown, but when he called the parks service, he was told they would face arrest. “I said, are you kidding me? You’re going to arrest a 90/91-year-old veteran from seeing his memorial? If it wasn’t for them it wouldn’t be there. She said, ‘That’s correct sir.'”

When Armstrong asked for her name, he says she did not give it to him and then promptly hung up the phone.

Blatant tyranny.

Clandestine Government

I’m back, after a brief hiatus. I’m have been having some health reviews—test, physicals, etc., one of those things everyone should do on a regular basis.

I’ve been lax. I can’t remember when I had a complete physical. I have learned that physicals aren’t completed in one day. No, it’s one test here, another test there, some can be done with a blood test—and more than once when they forget to check off a particular item to be tested. Some are embarrassing, like mine yesterday. That one went well and I won’t need to repeat that one for five years.

All this has disrupted my schedule. I hope, now, the disruptions will become fewer…and less often.


I see the…I’m at a loss what to call them. They are dems, of course, but also more. They’re libs, too, but not just being liberals. Infiltrators? Yes, that, they are. They’ve been infiltrating government and our public institutions since the 1930s. Communists? That’s, while accurate, is blasé. I believe Marxists is the current term. Usurpers? That’s what they want to do.

What do you call those who wish to destroy our country, heritage, our republican form of government, our liberty? A good question. However, we cannot deny that they exist and have an agenda.

We see more and more evidence everyday, from the lies about Benghazi, the overt support for radical Islamics inside and outside the government, the attacks on Christian heritage and conservatism, using government agencies to intimidate political opposition, using government to coerce individuals to submit to bureaucratic regulations, many that may have no supporting law.

Yesterday, another piece of clandestine government was uncovered. A separate, secret layer of communication outside the official means of communication within government. Federal law requires all emails in, from, between government agencies to be archived and available to the public via FOIA, Freedom Of Information Act. Obama and his faction created a secret communication system, an illegal system, using a private e-mail platform and refused to make those e-mails public as required by law. Unless, of course, those wanting the emails pony-up $1,000,000…maybe.

We, here in Cass County, have had experience with clandestine government. With the election of responsible Commissioners last Fall, our county government is restoring trust in our local politics.

In earlier years, county government was government by oligarchy. A small group, of both parties, played fast and loose with contracts, money, and some actions appear to have been fraudulent and those involved guilty of conspiracy. Those allegations are under investigation by a number of agencies including the FBI.

Now, look at the changes that have been made to make county government open—and responsible to, county voters.

  • County Commission meeting are regularly scheduled and announced in advance.
  • Information packets of business to be conducted and agendas are released before commission meetings including supporting documents of the topics to be discussed.
  • Commission meeting minutes are posted publicly and available on CDs for a small fee. The county clerk is required by law to record the minutes of commission meetings. However in prior years, the minutes were frequently late and their contents did not always agree with the memories of those meetings from spectators. In some instances, the minutes were altered, after the fact, by request of some commissioners, some have claimed. Those claims have been echoed by some of the county’s elected officials.

How different is our county government to that of the FedGov? A local government where we have elected officials dedicated to open government compared to the one in Washington, DC, where both parties, in the Administration and in Congress, work diligently to conceal their true motives and actions.

None of the activities being disclosed recently in Washington is surprising. We know the agencies and policies have been in place for decades—supported by both parties. The question now is how can we remove those impediments, remove the obstacles that hinder our liberties and our ability to reduce the power of federal agencies, and make government responsible to citizens?

That is a question that I have do not have an answer.

There oughta be a law!

Perhaps today’s blog title should be viewed as a question. Why should there be a law?  When I was growing up, our neighbor down the road had a standard statement whenever he was frustrated. “There oughta be a law!”

Be it a matter of taxes, the cost of cattle feed or when he just ran a bad weld on a seam, he said the same thing.  Repetition, of course, diminished the impact. I heard many say the same in the face of life’s adversity. In fact, I think there is (was?) a comic strip with that name. Whatever the reason, people seem to want government to resolve these situations.

Or, do we?

John Stossel wrote a commentary that appeared on Rasmussen’s website titled appropriately, “There ought Not to be a law.” Stossel takes the inverse view of this common statement and explains why more laws are not solutions to our woes. Sometimes the best solution, be it a new law or bailing out mega-corporations, is to do nothing.


There Ought Not to Be a Law


A Commentary by John Stossel

I’m a libertarian in part because I see a false choice offered by the political left and right: government control of the economy — or government control of our personal lives.

People on both sides think of themselves as freedom lovers. The left thinks government can lessen income inequality. The right thinks government can make Americans more virtuous. I say we’re best off if neither side attempts to advance its agenda via government.

Let both argue about things like drug use and poverty, but let no one be coerced by government unless he steals or attacks someone. Beyond the small amount needed to fund a highly limited government, let no one forcibly take other people’s money. When in doubt, leave it out — or rather, leave it to the market and other voluntary institutions.

But this is not how most people think. Most people see a world full of problems that can be solved by laws. They assume it’s just the laziness, stupidity or indifference of politicians that keeps them from solving our problems. But government is force — and inefficient.

That’s why it’s better if government didn’t try to address most of life’s problems.

People tend to believe that “government can!” When problems arise, they say, “There ought to be a law!”


The tea party gave me hope, but I was fooled again. Within months, the new “fiscally conservative” Republicans voted to preserve farm subsidies, vowed to “protect” Medicare and cringed when Romney’s future veep choice, Rep. Paul Ryan, proposed his mild deficit plan.


It is unfortunate that the United States, founded partly on libertarian principles, cannot admit that government has gotten too big. East Asian countries embraced markets and flourished. Sweden and Germany liberalized their labor markets and saw their economies improve.


But we keep passing new rules.


The enemy here is human intuition. Amid the dazzling bounty of the marketplace, it’s easy to take the benefits of markets for granted. I can go to a foreign country and stick a piece of plastic in the wall, and cash will come out. I can give that same piece of plastic to a stranger who doesn’t even speak my language — and he’ll rent me a car for a week. When I get home, Visa or MasterCard will send me the accounting — correct to the penny. We take such things for granted.


Government, by contrast, can’t even count votes accurately.


Yet whenever there are problems, people turn to government. Despite the central planners’ long record of failure, few of us like to think that the government which sits atop us, taking credit for everything, could really be all that rotten. 


The great 20th-century libertarian H.L. Mencken lamented, “A government at bottom is nothing more than a group of men, and as a practical matter most of them are inferior men. … Yet these nonentities, by the intellectual laziness of men in general … are generally obeyed as a matter of duty (and) assumed to have a kind of wisdom that is superior to ordinary wisdom.”


There is nothing government can do that we cannot do better as free individuals — and as groups of individuals working freely together.


Without big government, our possibilities are limitless.

I like Strossel’s writing. I invite you to follow the link and read the entire article. I don’t agree with everything he writes but I do agree most of the time.

His last sentence is intriguing. “Without big government, our possibilities are limitless.” NASA, surprisingly, is taking a step in this direction, albeit a small step.  NASA is privatizing our ground-to-orbit launch systems.  There have been a number of successes, small ones given the size of NASA’s current budget. It is an opportunity for a company or consortium, if they take the risk.

Limited government, limited regulation, will free innovation and growth.  That is what we need for the 21st Century or we will go the way of the Roman Empire, fragmented and powerless.

It’s Summer Time!

Officially, Summer will arrive this afternoon. Today is also the longest day of the year,  and, coincidentally, it’s my Father’s birthday. He was born 110 years ago today in Newcastle, UK.  More than a century ago.  I find it had to believe. If my Mother was alive, she’d be 108.  Wow!

My Father’s family arrived in the US via Ellis Island in 1904. At that time, Dad was the youngest of the six children.  A younger brother would arrive in 1912 but he wouldn’t survive his teens.

A century.

Look how much has happened in that time.  In 1904 when my Father arrived in the US there was only 45 states in the Union. Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico, along with Alaska and Hawaii, were still Territories.  Teddy Roosevelt would win a full term as President.  Just take a look at this snapshot of the US in 1904.

  • Average life expectancy was 47.
  • Only 14 percent of homes had a bathtub.
  • Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.
  • There were 8,000 cars and just 144 miles of paved roads.
  • Alabama, Mississippi, Iowa, and Tennessee were each more heavily populated than California. With a mere 1.4 million residents, California was only the 21st most populous state in the Union.
  • More than 95% of all births took place at home.
  • 90% of all physicians had no college education.
  • Most women only washed their hair once a month and used borax or egg yolks for shampoo.
  • The five leading causes of death were: 1. Pneumonia & influenza 2. Tuberculosis 3. Diarrhea 4. Heart disease 5. Stroke
  • The population of Las Vegas, Nevada was 30.

Marginal Revolution.

Let’s add a couple of more.  The Income Tax didn’t exist. That wouldn’t arrive until 1912.  Senators were appointed by the State Legislatures, not elected.  Senators depended on the Legislature for their office. That meant Senators followed the instructions from their state or they would be recalled by the state. It was a prime factor that sustained State’s Rights.

Here’s a few more facts.

  • One in ten US adults couldn’t read or write.
  • Only 6% of all Americans had graduated from HIGH SCHOOL.
  • Coca Cola contained cocaine.
  • 18% of households in the US had at least one full-time SERVANT or domestic.
  • There were only about 230 reported MURDERS in the entire US.

What a difference a century makes.  It really makes you consider what our nation will look like in another century.  Will it exist? Will it divide into multiple countries like the breakup of Yugoslavia after the death of Tito?  Will it split along Red vs. Blue states, the welfare states of the Northeast and West Coast against the producing states of the South, Midwest, West and Southwest?  Will the Constitution still be the supreme law of the land?  Will the UN and NATO still exist? Russian and China in their current forms?

So many questions and no one has answers. I would say that most of us would want the US to continue but with a streamlined, more efficient and effective government. Unfortunately, there are so many who oppose our view.  Frankly, I foresee some form of civil war, to one degree or another, as being inevitable.

As Lord Acton wrote in 1887, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The statists have a taste of power. They will not release their hold on that power easily nor willingly. To that end, I’d suggest we take heed of the Coast Guard’s motto, Semper Paratus or Be Prepared.

State Employee Benefits

A question was posed yesterday concerning retirement benefits for MO Legislators.  The Missouri General Assembly Legislators, by design, are part-time positions only.  Their yearly salary is capped at $31,000 per legislative year.

As a part-time legislature, compensation is low with the General Assembly, and most senators and representatives hold jobs outside their legislative duties. Law makers are paid $31,351 per legislative year. — Wiki

The legislators are term limited to eight years as a Representative and eight years as a state Senator.  A total for any individual of sixteen years. The question is whether Legislators should receive a state retirement.

No.  The Missouri Constitution clearly states that Legislators are part-time.  The office is not designed to provide a “living wage” nor should it be.  Legislators should be in office to serve the state and their constituents, not to be served by the state.

Almost immediately, another asked if that retirement ban should extend to other state employees and to police and firemen.  My opinion to both is a qualified, “Yes.”

Many (most?) corporations across the country no longer provide company retirement plans.  They have switched to 401K plans with some degree of matching employer funds.  For those who don’t know what a 401K plan is, it is an employee savings plan where an employee can save for retirement and not be taxed on those funds until they are withdrawn at retirement.  Most employers will contribute, to some degree, “matching funds” to those plans. The amount of contribution can vary from zero to one hundred percent match of the employee’s contribution.

Over a period of years the 401K fund can grow quite large.  If an employee moves from one job to another, he can take those funds with him and continue to contribute to them at his new job.  For me and those whom I worked with, the 401K plan has worked very well.

Only those corporations saddled with unions still have a company retirement plan. In some states, even those pension plans are shifting to 401K plans.  Public service employees, like unions, still balk and ignore this trend.

As a recently retired engineer, I know what it is to work toward a goal of being independent in retirement.  I’ve  planned my retirement through most of my working life. I admit it’s not as big as I would have desired, but my plan has worked well enough.

One of the contributors of the discussion stated that without a retirement plan, a state provided pension plan, no one would want to be a state employee or a Police Officer or Firemen.  For the latter, if a retirement plan was their motivation of joining the Police or Fire Departments, they are in the wrong profession.

But that argument still exists for some.  In truth, the state can no longer afford state provided pensions.  The individual must take responsibility for his future.  What the state should do is to provide the tools to allow the employee to make his own decision: ignore the situation as many do, or use those tools to create a personal plan and the mechanism for the employee to fund that plan. The responsibility of the state ends there.

The corruption of state pension plans, driven by public service unions, must end.  We know the farce of the Wisconsin state pension plan where the state provides the funding and the union member contributions go to the union central committee to be used for political contributions to liberal and socialist organizations. That is nothing more than theft. It is misusing public moneys to fund a plan while the so-call individual contributions are siphoned into political contributions for the democrat party.  If that isn’t a criminal act, it should be. 

States can no longer provide cradle to grave support for their citizens as they can no longer provide such services to their employees.  People and employees must manage their futures independent of the State.  The argument that the lack of pensions and other state-provided benefits will prevent people from filling state positions is as false as the idea that the State must provide universal healthcare. The concept doesn’t work nor can we afford the expense. 

The day of personal responsibility must return. The proper role of the state as an employer is to provide the tools and, perhaps, mechanisms for the employees to create their own futures.  The day of the state management of personal benefits is over.  Let’s move forward with plans that reinforce personal responsibility instead of state dependency.

Promises vs. Commitments

This may be a bit different from my usual run of posts.  The world abounds with examples of people, families, businesses, and governmental entities making promises and then failing to keep those promises.  When this happens the recipients of those promises are up in arms.  And, in some cases, rightly so.  But a promise is NOT a commitment.  There’s a difference, albeit in the view of some, a minor one.

If you look up the words in a dictionary, both are viewed as legally binding, but are they?  In real world usage, both are verbal.  If they are written, they become something beyond a promise or a commitment. If written, they become contracts and covenants.

A promise, in my opinion, is to make a best effort to accomplish a goal.  “I promise to cut the grass tomorrow.”  If conditions grant that the task can be done, it will be done. But, if tomorrow brings a constant rain, no one expects me to be mowing my grass in the rain.  To make a promise then, is to make a “best effort, barring unforeseen occurrences” to accomplish that which has been promised.

A commitment, however, is different as I was taught by my old boss.  If you make a promise and fail to meet it, you’ll likely get another chance to complete that promise although not as original conceived.  A commitment means if you don’t deliver as specified, you’re fired!

Consequently, you’ll not be surprised that I make few commitments. I do make promises and do my best, when I do, to meet those promises. But a commitment…ahhh, that’s different.

When I married my wife, I made a commitment to her.  My vows were standard, love, cherish, be faithful.  I did not make a promise. I made a commitment and I’ve kept that commitment for…uh, lemme see now, 43 years.  A commitment means keeping that vow regardless of personal issues, regardless of unforeseen circumstances, regardless of the unexpected, regardless of “acts of God.”

It’s not surprising that people confuse the two.  A local example occurred this year with my county government.  There is a county road that passes a couple of schools and has heavy traffic.  It is narrow and needs to be widened.  A promise was made to the local residents to widen the road.  Funding for the project came from a number of sources, some from the state, some from a bond issue, and more from the county’s general budget.

Then reality hit.  The county government made some bad estimates in revenue.  They thought the revenue stream, all from a county sales tax, would grow at a small rate.  It didn’t. With the recession/depression, people started conserving. They bought less, only those items that were necessary.  The county income failed to meet the amount required to fulfill the promises made by the prior political incumbents.

Promise meet commitment.  The road project was a promise…until conditions changed that made meeting the promise untenable.  The county has/is/will cut expenses.  People have been laid off. Routine maintenance has been slowed.  State revenues are also down and money from the state for road projects have been cut as well.

Promise meet commitment.  When the choice is paying for lights at the County Jail and Sheriff’s office or using that money to widen a road, which has priority?  The county has a commitment to keep the Sheriff’s office running. The road project is a promise. See the difference?

Consider all the examples of these two.  Some consider Social Security and Medicare commitments. Others, myself included, consider them promises. Until the 1930s, Social Security did not exist. Until the late 1960s, Medicare did not exist.  When my mother was diagnosed with cancer in 1960 there was no Medicare. She had private insurance from two sources. One as a benefit of being an elementary school teacher and the other as being the spouse of a UMWA member.  From whom was the promise of healthcare?  Certainly it was not from the federal government.

Therefore, what is the commitment of the federal government? There is only one: to uphold and defend the Constitution.

All else are nothing more than promises. As we move towards the future, let’s not be confused with governmental promises and commitments.

They are not the same.