• Phorced Philanthropy

         Senator Joe Biden recently made some interesting comments regarding what I call, at the risk of being oxymoronic, “forced philanthropy.” Biden, whom I grudgingly like for his refreshing candor, despite his being wrong on most issues, has actually equated paying higher taxes to fund increased entitlements with patriotism and being religiously observant.

         He implies you are being “stingy” if you bristle at or oppose an increase in your tax burden in order for the government to redistribute your money to other people. The good Senator seems unconcerned that free will and personal choice be a part of the transaction at all.

         Look at it this way: You know a man who’s suffering a temporary financial hardship. You head off to Safeway or Costco and then bring him four fat sacks of groceries to help see him through. This is a moral transaction, primarily because it is voluntary. You feel good for doing a good thing. The man feels good and grateful for the act of generosity, and is likely to do the same for someone else in need some day.

         On the other hand, what if the government takes the four sacks of groceries from you and then gives it to a man unknown to you who may or may not deserve it? This is not a moral transaction as it is done at the point of a gun—the decision is not yours. You don’t feel good having the government confiscate the groceries you purchased. The man isn’t particularly appreciative, because the groceries have come from a faceless entity. He doesn’t feel grateful; he feels entitled, and he’s not likely to, if he’s ever even in a position to, be charitable to anyone.

         If these contrasting scenarios don’t make sense to you, you might have to reassess your understanding of logic. If you feel government is essential in order to feed, cloth, and house the poor, you have precious little faith in your fellow human beings and far too much faith in government.

  • CLICK!

     

        

         There’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve experienced when I, “click.” I’m not kidding, it almost feels like an actual click that shivers throughout my entire body, as if some gate of knowledge has suddenly snapped open. I’m sure it’s happened to you at least once in your life. You try and try to learn a particular skill, but just when you think you’re too dense to ever have the ability sink into your thick noggin, suddenly you get it—you click!

         I used to notice this in my police students when I was a field training officer. I’d watch day after day as the frustration would mount and they, and I, would wonder what exactly the problem was. Then suddenly, often after a night of sleep, or a couple days off, the student would perform the task skillfully.

         I’ve thought a lot about this phenomenon over the years, and especially on this path I’m currently on toward writing success. I couldn’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve clicked, or how many times I thought I never would (I’m currently in one of those now), but I have noticed a difference these days. With experience, I’ve realized that a significant portion of this clicking now involves trust—faith.

         You have to learn to trust that things will click for you if you have the stones to add a couple of components. First, you must resolve to never give up. My wife and I have achieved a certain amount of success, both in public safety professions, after coming from a literal rag-tag existence. We often say we achieved success, because we finally decided to quit complaining and gave ourselves no other options.

         Today, I’ve made the same bargain with myself; regarding my writing career, success is the only option I’ll allowed myself. Now if I could only work on making success happen sooner rather than later…. (I know, trust.)

         And remember when I say, never give up, I mean in the long run, keeping the eventual goal in mind. We’ll all fail and succeed alternately until our successes outnumber our failures. And like a good friend of mine often says, “I’ve sure learned a hell of a lot more from my failures in life than I ever did from my successes.” If one lane on your road to success isn’t producing, move over to the next, but keep moving forward.

         And finally, trust yourself that even if what you’re trying to learn seems impossible, you will click at some point. You’ll get it. It will happen for you. It’ll suddenly make sense. Also remember, success is contagious, your successes for you and for those who watch you succeed, and theirs for you when you watch them succeed—in that way we will all click!

  • Too Much to Ignore.

         It’s a practical aspect of politics that many voters must choose to ignore certain perceived negative aspects of a candidate in order to cast a vote for that person. This is a product of being limited to voting for flawed human beings, which includes all of us. Of course some of us have more flaws than others. Hell, my list of flaws is so long you don’t see me running for office, do you?

         Some times it comes down to just how much negative or suspicious unknowns, a voter has to ignore in order to lend a candidate their support and asking themselves whether or not they’re being responsible to our country, or to a particular political party. Thinking about the current presidential election, when we consider what negatives we have to choose to ignore about each candidate in order to vote for them, we see the stark distinction between the two major candidates.

         Although both men obviously care deeply for America, by his own admission, Senator Obama wishes to Change America, having spoken about what, “…America could be.” Senator McCain seems perfectly content with America as is, but is more interesting in changing how its government works. Can America be better? Of course, but should it be different? McCain says no—I agree with him.

         Now, what negatives do voters have to choose to ignore if they want to support McCain? (I did not originally support McCain.) Well, many folks aren’t happy with McCain-Feingold, could do without his immigration policy, and cringe when his temper flares. However, these negatives can be ignored with a clear conscience.

         But, what about Obama? In order to support this candidate a voter must first ignore a wafer-thin résumé, vague foreign and domestic policy positions, and a wife whose view America is suspect. And further, voters must, to America’s peril, choose to ignore his long-time relationships with Tony Rezko, William Ayers, and Rev. Wright. Can any voter really choose to ignore the candidate’s business, political, and personal relationships with a crook, a creep, and a crackpot? More importantly, can America?

         I vehemently oppose Hillary Clinton’s policies and I don’t particularly care for her as a person. I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d vote for her. However, the Democratic Party made a huge error when they tossed her aside for such an irresponsible choice as Barak Obama. It’s not that Obama is less qualified than Clinton; it’s that he’s less qualified than any candidate who ran for the major parties 2008 nominations and, for that matter, less qualified than some third-party candidates. The American presidency is far too important for any voter to give any candidate that much of the benefit of the doubt.