Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Defending the Constitution. The US Military & foreign involvement

I find it ironic that some fiscal conservatives support the huge military budget & our military involvement in other countries.  Military costs account for 25% of our budget.  That's not much as a percentage, but when you factor in the enormous deficit spending, & the vast amount of fraud & waste, it is a tidy sum.. over $1T/yr, according to many estimates.   When you add up the results of our massive spending in our military ventures, it is not worth it, neither in bringing peace to the world, nor in furthering the cause of freedom & self determination for all people.  Is the world a more peaceful place with our military involvement?  Or do we use Obama's justification saying it would have been much worse, had we not done the spending (or bombing, etc)?

We have ~ 130 bases throughout the world.  Obviously they cost a lot, & what is their purpose?  Our military are often used as an enforcement tool for businesses.  The result is also loss of respect for american values in the countries we are occupying.  The ugly american syndrome is furthered, taxpayer money is wasted, & the worst consequense of our military philosophy: lives are lost.

We also cannot afford the foreign aid we have been giving to other countries.  Why should american taxpayers be giving  money to other nations in the world?  Certainly, if there is a catastrophe, americans can & do give to relief efforts.  But most of our foreign aid is tied with military involvement, or buying the politicians in other countries.  We pretend to be indignant with politicians' link to money & political corruption, but engage in the same practices on a policy level.

Here are some ideas for saving money & promoting the cause of freedom in the world:

1.  Start at zero all foreign aid.  Some of the new repub candidates are promoting this idea.  I will take it one step further:  Keep it at zero.  Handing out money only breeds corruption.  Corruption in the country we pretend to be helping causes resentment & usually reduces the freedom in that country.. corrupt dictators use american tax dollars to oppress their own people, & we have their blood on our hands.  Propping up corrupt regimes should never be in our global interests.  We could more easily justify sending these tyrants a few drones, rather than supporting them.

2.  Close all foreign bases.  Bring our troops home.  Secure our borders, & use diplomacy & intellegence to secure our interests.  Let businesses take risks when opening up ventures in unstable countries, & not look to the us military to reduce them.

3.  Get out of nato & the united nations.  These have become corrupt organizations controlled by either money people, looking to profit from military action, or ideologues using american tax dollars to promote their agenda.

4.  Define American 'interests'.  This term is used to justify military action & the massive wasting of american tax money.  It is not in our interests, i submit, for us to be the world 'policeman'.  We are a test model for freedom.  200 years ago, our forefathers fought for this experiment in individual freedom.  The military was never intended to become what it is now.  Many of the founders warned of this.  I think our 'interests' should be protecting the american citizens' rights to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.  This is not a guarantee of any financial venture in foreign countries.  If we have a vibrant, free society, with a solid financial basis in our economy, we have the power to exert tremendous economic pressure on other countries.  Let us use that as a weapon.

5.  No wars or military action without full congressional approval.  No police actions.  No joining in with nato or the un to promote their agenda because a president thinks it is a good idea.  Committing our military is & should be a last resort, & should have a united us govt to back it.

6.  No deficit spending on military action.  We should have a balanced budget amendment, anyway, but especially in our military endeavors.  Future generations should not have to pay for the imperialistic desires of the past.

We have lost too many young americans in questionable military engagements.  We have wasted trillions of dollars blowing up other nations & killing their people.  I don't see any justification in these sacrifices.  Our military people are brave & loyal to the nation.. their principal charge is to 'defend the constitution of the United States of America'.  These police actions do not threaten our constitution, but our politicians do, with their manipulating of the military.  Lets get back to a more constitutional view of the military.  Many lives will be spared, money will be saved & can be spent on building, not destroying, & the image of america as a beacon of freedom will not be marred by the hypocrisy of our politicians & money peoples' special interests.

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose—and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
Abraham Lincoln

Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world. 
Thomas Jefferson 

The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.
Charles-Louis De Secondat

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

War is just a racket...I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else.
General Smedley Butler

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Student loans & fannie mae lending

If there was a pure open market, then only the very wealthy could afford to send their kids to the plush schools with the high prices, unless they get a fat scholarship.  The rest of the schools would have to compete for the majority student dollar.  That is how it has been for most of the last century.  You could start at a juco, then finish at a decent state university & not be in debt for the rest of your life.

But the politicians/bankers/academians decided that was not good enough.  Why should only rich kids or smart scholarship kids get to go to the expensive schools?  Lets provide easy money for people to go to school anywhere they want!  It's not really a low interest loan, either.  Currently it is more than twice as much as a home loan.

I have no doubt that there have been a great number of students who partook of the program & managed it wisely.  For them, it has not been a problem.  Those responsible, financially sensible kids would have done fine with or without it.  But the problem is the great number of less sophisticated borrowers.  A great number of them racked up huge debt for fluffy degrees.  Yes, it can be argued that they shouldn't have taken out such huge loans for a degree that was unlikely to provide a return on their investment.  The same argument is directed toward the borrowers of housing loans.  All those poor people who bought high priced houses but did not have the means to pay it back.  THEY caused the housing crash.  THEY were irresponsible borrowers.  But a greater number of people see the predatory lenders as being the problem.  They packaged the loan in a pretty wrap with a nice ribbon.  Neither the poor house buyer nor the poor student could lose!  Why would they not want to take the loan?

But here is the main difference, & what makes the student loans much more insidious:  The house borrowers can just default on the loan.  Their credit will suffer for 7 years, and they can go on without the burden of the debt.  But the student cannot.  The student is saddled with the debt forever!  They cannot bankrupt out of it.  Only death will release them, & i'm sure the bankers are looking into how they can beat that & pass it on to someone else, like their other dark ages practices.

The socialistic house lending policies only put us into an economic tail spin for years, bankrupted thousands of people, leaving millions more upside down in their houses, & ended thousands of construction related businesses.  It will eventually turn around.  But the student loans stick to them like hot tar.  And the interest just continues to rise!  A french poetry major with $100k in student loan debt is accruing interest at the rate of $8-10k per year, and that is only if they got an extension & have the loan deferred.  If they are in default, the interest & penalties are more.  They cannot afford $2-300/month payment on a loan.. & that wouldn't even cover the interest.

Any solutions?  Here's some of mine:

1.  Stop the program.  Make it a regular loan like any other.  It may be harder to get for a while (tried to buy a house lately?), but lenders will make the loans to good risks.  Poor kids can get scholarships if they are smart, & they can work their way through school, too.  Smart, hard working people will find a way to get ahead in a free market system.  Lazy, spoiled, entitled people will continue to be a burden on society, as they always have been.  That is another topic.

2.  Let the banks & academia take some of the hit.  Let them cut back the amount owed.. do a 'making education affordable' plan that helps kids who are upside down in their student loans get out of them.  Or cancel the credits they have, & cancel the loans.  But demanding that all of these young (& some not so young) people repay the huge loans they have incurred, without any escape from them is a return to dark ages lending policies.  Our student loan borrowers have become modern day indentured servants.  They will have to work for years to make a dent in their loans, if they can even cover the interest.  The risk & consequences of these predatory loans was not adequately disclosed, & they should never have been allowed, anyway.  Our politicians & academians were not looking out for the students' interests, but only their own & the banks' profit.

A great number of the OWS crowd are college graduates with huge student loans.  They are blaming the bankers, who are greedy & predatory, to be sure.  But they should be protesting the govt & academia, who allowed the greedy money people to do this.  The money people are always greedy, & always want to screw us.  ..always have, always will.  We the people have had to regulate them to keep that from happening.. or at least reduce it.  Protesting the banks is misdirected.  We need to change the politicians.  We need financial regulations from politicians who are not in the pocket of the money people.

It was socialistic policies that caused this mess, & many think more socialism will get us out.  Can we not see the folly of that?  Do we think that protesting bankers will cause them to be generous?  Do we think that letting the govt control all of the financial sector will bring efficiency & lessen corruption?

Free markets.  Fair regulations.  Freedom.  This will work.

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. 
Thomas Jefferson 

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe."
Abraham Lincoln

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with a result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years."
Sir Alexander Fraser Tyler

We contend that for a nation to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
Winston Churchill

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Student loans.. the new indentured servitude

The education loan flood is eerily similar to the fannie mae & freddy mac debacle. It is based on the same assumptions. Free money! The principal difference is the house mortgage borrowers can default if they can't make the payment. They can just dump the house. But student loans stay with you forever! It is a financial policy return to the dark ages. It also caused, it can be argued, the massive spike in education, just like when housing went up.

How about we let the kids who are up to their eyeballs in debt for a useless degree, give it back? Since they got talked into 'buying' this degree, let them give it back. They don't get the piece of paper for the cushy job that was promised, & the banks & academia have to cancel the loan. Let them take a hit on their predatory lending practices, not just dump it on the student (and their parents).

The promise of easy money is never kept. It may drag on for a while, but like any ponzi scheme, there will be an end, & it is usually bad for those left holding the bag. The housing loan scam from the politicians with easy money for everyone was one. The student loan scam will be next.

America is the only country that went from barbarism to decadence without civilization in between.
Oscar Wilde

"Those who steal from private individuals spend their lives in stocks and chains; those who steal from the public treasury go dressed in gold and purple."
Marcus Porcius Cato

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."
Albert Einstein

Friday, November 25, 2011

Politicians & Big Money.

We have an unholy alliance between politicians and the big money people.  The banks, unions, big manufacturing (slowly going to china, now), big corporations & their lure of money to our leaders is at the root of most of our problems. Add to that the socialist leanings of the populace, & you get the chaos we have now.

Here are some of my solutions:
1. End all fed govt subsidies.. business, farm, academic, foreign, domestic. We'll have to phase some of these out, since so many people have come to depend on them. But why should we support a violent totalitarian regime like mubarek's? Or why pay someone to not work or grow things? And why should the american taxpayers do it, anyway? That won't end all corruption, which will always be with us, but it will limit it & not allow it to explode like we see today, with over $15 T debt.

2. Stop the drift or lean or tendency toward socialistic policies. Go with a regulated open market. That is america's heritage, & it works. The rest of the world longs for that, why in the world would we want to emulate their failures? Our jeffersonian democracy is the envy of the world. Lets keep it going & be a truly free people.

3. Change the culture of Washington. Too many for too long have seen public service as a grab bag of free money & a ride on the gravy train. We need to limit the money that is available to the fed govt, & we need to have better watchdogs & prosecute when the crooks break the law.

4. Cut back the military. I'm going ron paul on this one. Close all our foreign bases. Stop meddling in other countries' affairs. Support free people with public encouragement, not secret arms deals. Stop supporting totalitarian regimes. Let other countries fight for their freedom & liberties like we did.. sure, we can make treaties or alliances, but we shouldn't be occupying. If we have to send troops somewhere, there should be a formal declaration of war, voted on by the entire congress.. no presidential police actions.

It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.
Thomas Jefferson

When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
Thomas Jefferson

To be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child.

People say that money is not the key to happiness, but I always figured if you have enough money, you can have a key made.
Joan Rivers

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Education, Banks, Politicians, & the Dark Ages

Academia, politicians & the banking system.. strange bedfellows.

Anyone see the irony in the partnership the banks have with academia?  Academics pretend to be interested only in providing a balanced & educated world view, but they indoctrinate from an early age:  "You must go to college to get ahead", they preach, "& you can get student loans, assistance, & waivers to do it.. everyone should go to college!"

They do not prepare for competing in the marketplace, or choosing a vocation that is practical or can actually get a good job, but only the vague concept of 'going to college'.  Then they work with the banks & politicians to provide money for these newly indoctrinated lemmings who trust their teachers.. they seem so sincere & smart.. not like the stupid people they warned about outside of school.

So the politicians, working in close association with the money people & academia, come up with a plan:  Make loans that you can't get away from, even with bankruptcy!  What a great idea!  Just like the old days!  If your family incurred debts, you could be sold as an indentured servant until the debt is paid.  Now, you will always have the school debt with you, & can never get away from it, even if you made stupid choices in choosing a college or a particular degree, if you even got one.

So here you are, flush with enthusiasm from the graduation speeches, looking for that job that was promised.  Ok, maybe a few more resume's.  ..maybe try a few more in places i didn't really want to live..  ..ok, how about anything in this field?  Pretty soon you find out that you can get into debt collections, timeshare sales, or the food industry, & even though your degree didn't help with that job, you at least have a well balanced liberal arts degree & can feel superior to the uneducated morons who missed it.

But now you don't make enough to pay off that loan.  You've deferred it for a few years, & interest has accrued, making the payments even higher.  So you get another deferment.. but the interest is more than 10 times what you get in a savings acct. or even a car loan.  If you had 20-30k in original loans, it's now up to 40-50.. and on top of that, all the credit card offers you got, which you kept current with the student loans, are maxing out.  Those rates are even higher than the student loan rates!

But maybe you were smart, & got mom & dad to co-sign for the student loans.  Now they have to start making payments, or their credit goes down the tubes.  But they took out a second loan to buy an investment house, & now they can't sell the house they bought or their own home, because the prices crashed, leaving them upside down in both.  They're thinking of bankruptcy, too.

You still can't get away from those student loans!  You can lose your house, your car, all your investments, your life savings... or any other financial venture you undertook.. but not the 'investment' in your education!  That is one that will always pay off, according to the academians, so it's a safe investment.  They sold it to you as a 'no lose' investment, but it doesn't look so good now.

Who profited from your 'investment'?  Why the banks, of course, with their quietly increasing interest.  The academians?  Yes, they got the tuition & all the other rising costs for the ponzi scheme they came up with.  They could charge full price & let costs skyrocket!  The tenured professors can keep their fat salaries, & a nice pension to boot, thanks to you!  The politician?  For sure.. they got fat contributions from the teacher's unions, plenty of money from the big money people, & they got to support a popular, politically correct govt. program:  Education.  If you think it is expensive, try stupidity.  How about we redefine stupidity & call it education!

So you're sorry you got that masters in french poetry, now that you owe almost 100k in loans & accrued interest.  You would like to get an engineering degree, or something in computers, since there are better jobs in that field, but you can't get any  more loans, & you can't afford to go to school, since you're having to work a lot of hours at the restaurant, & you significant other is also having trouble finding work.  Any & all other debts can be wiped clean.. yes, you made some bad choices getting the new furniture.. & you shouldn't have gotten the car, but they reposessed those, & your bankrupty cleared off all your other bad debts.. except for your wonderful student loan!  You will have that to make payment to for a long time.  Forget building up your credit score.. forget having enough to buy a house.  You have to pay for the 'social programs' that academia, the banks, & the wonderful politicians came up with.

Ok, now i'll tell you what i really think.  Making loans that cannot be settled or removed, especially directed towards youth & unsophisticated financial planners, is immoral & should be illegal.  It is a policy return to the dark ages & indentured servitude.  Young people don't even have to ask their parents, but can stack up a mountain of debt in student loans.

I understand the reasoning why they did it.  Banks wouldn't lend to students & let them pile up huge loans, because they would just declare bankruptcy.  But then academia would lose money, so they got their politicians to make this plan, glossing over any problems that might arise.  So the entire country get to pay the price for their lack of foresight & incompetence (at best), or special interest corruption (at worst)

It is unfair to saddle young people with the burden of inescapable debt.  The academians pushed the debt on them, promising them pies in the sky if they would only go to college & support the academic agenda.  Let them help in paying them off, & end the practice.  Sure, loans will dry up, but so will the mountain of debt.  Colleges will have to be competitive & provide a real product.  Many will not & will fail because of mismanagement & an impractical mission statement, but that is how the open market works.  Why should academia be guaranteed a place in the market?  They are just a business like any other.

So, who is likely to foot the bill for this?  Any guesses?  Do you think American taxpayers are very high on the probablity list?

What is my solution?  It's easy to criticize & find fault.. how about helping with a solution?

1.  End the practice.  It's just a loan like any other.  Secure it, or take a chance.

2.  Share the loss.  The student shouldn't be the only loser in this scam.  The banks & academia should too.  Provide a renegotiated loan with the original school giving some back & the banks cutting their part, too.

3.  Fire the politicians.  This was my fault, kids.  I and my generation were not watchful & alert to the scams & schemes that these unscrupulous charlatans came up with.  We'll fire them & get people who will look out for the people's interests & bring freedom back to America.  It will be tough to change the culture.. politicians are too used to the grab bag of money in washington, but we can cut their money & limit the corruption.  We'll find some honest people who will cut the fraud, waste & corruption.  It will take some time, so we better get started asap.

I don't know how we could implement it, but i think it would be a good idea if the profiteers from govt scams like this had to pay it back, & even go to jail.  That would certainly discourage future scammers, & we could get some of our tax money back.  It would be a drop in the bucket, but how about the heads of fannie mae, etc, have to repay all their bonuses & salary for their failures?  How about if the politicians who voted for spending packages had to repay out of their pocket any waste, fraud or corruption?  There would be a little more care in the voting process, i'm sure.

But that is unlikely, & probably too hard to fairly enforce.  But i'm sure we could come up with something with some teeth to discourage this kind of special interest corruption.

"The money powers prey upon the nation in times of peace and conspire against it in times of adversity. The banking powers are more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. They denounce as public enemies all who question their methods or throw light upon their crimes. I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at my rear is my greatest foe."
Abraham Lincoln

"Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience."
John Locke

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
George Bernard Shaw

How many people here have telekenetic powers? Raise my hand. 
Emo Philips

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Divided States of America..

Maybe it's the instantaneous availability of current news.. maybe its just that dissension & fighting gets more news coverage. But it seems to me that the US is becoming more & more split ideologically. We have the occupiers at one extreme, & the tea party at the other. The left & the right. The left generally wants more govt, more spending, cradle to grave nanny state solutions. The right wants less govt, cut spending, more traditional american values of freedom & self reliance.

That is simplistic, i know, but is a basic summary of the main differences.

There doesn't seem to be a 'silent majority' anymore. People are leaning to either position, & with good reason. We have had a 'blend' of the 2 ideologies, which has resulted in our current problems. ..$15T in debt & still rising. We either need to go full socialism, or get back to a free market economy. This blend has only given us the worst of both, with rampant corruption making matters worse.

The tolerance of corruption is unbelievable. It's like the leaders think the system is going down, & are letting their cronies grab what they can before it crashes.

The extreme left is pushing for full socialism, of course, & seems to be willing to use violence to get there. They have organized or at least hijacked the occupy movement, & are now looking for violent confrontation to get their agenda in place. Do we think the extreme right will sit by idly while this happens? Violent confrontation seems to be in the not too distant future. A new civil war is brewing with these ideological differences.

And where are our leaders? Our commander in chief is fanning the flames of division with his constant class warfare remarks, & seems to be promoting the left's agenda, & egging on the occupy crowd.

Instead of looking for real solutions to our problems, & healing our divisions, the country is splitting even more, with the full support & encouragement of the govt.

I suppose this is really nothing new.. every so often a nation must define itself.. each generation must choose who they will be. I am very sorry my generation made such a mess of things.. we were like spoiled bratty rich kids who just partied away their parents hard earned savings, then spent more & left the debt to their kids.

I don't think the occupy movement is just opposing corporate greed, or greed in general. It seems to me that most of the occupiers are just as greedy.. they just want theirs. Many of those interviewed want their student loans paid off, or a slice of the pie, somehow. With the rampant corruption in the govt, i suppose i can't blame others for wanting to get in on the gravy train. But surely we realize that there is no free lunch, & someone is footing the bill. Every ponzi scheme ends badly for those at the end.

What is greed? In its basic form, it is just the desire to get ahead.. to build a family, empire, or company. It is a competition to have more that others, perhaps, but it also a desire for security & a better life. Everyone seems to want more.. we are never satisfied with what we have. Many studies have been done that show all levels of the income spectrum wishing for just a little more, then they would have enough. Is greed really evil? If you can charge more for your time or services would you do it? If you can get a better paying job, wouldn't you do it? If sellers can price their products so they sell, but they make more than they need, is that wrong? Apple gets a lot for their iphone, but when the android os came out, it took a bit of their market share.. they have to convince everyone that their product is better, worth more, & price it to sell.

There are laws that prevent monopolies from charging whatever they want, and antitrust laws to prevent organized price fixing. But i don't think the complaints from the occupiers are really about that. They are against capitalism in general.. they are michael moore followers.. dreaming of a utopia where everything is equal. But where has socialism ever worked?

I submit that greed is the fuel that drives people to work hard & get ahead, if they can get compensated. In purely socialistic states, worker production is very flat, because there is no motivation to excel. "The greater good" just does not motivate people like "more for me & my family". China is another good example. When in full socialism, they were stagnant. Once they opened the door to capitalistic enterprise, it has exploded. This is just basic human nature.. there is no changing it or denying it.

But these are arguments about what is dividing us. ..and i think it is good to have the clear choices in the open, not disguised or muddled in politically correct terminology. I think it is a division between a more socialistic direction for the country, & a return to free market capitalism. The next generation will have to make that choice. Mine has made a mess of things by trying to have both, but that hasn't worked at all, so a definitive choice needs to be made.. what kind of country do you want? We cannot just let the extremists & ideologues decide for us. Thinking people need to learn from history, understand the times they are in, & speak up for what they want. I don't think socialism will be an escape from greed or excesses by the elite.. they will still do that, & have the additional power to keep the rest of us from rising to their station, if we so desire.

Isn't this the simple point of division in the US? Capitalism vs. Socialism? 

I have to admit that i am not very sympathetic to the occupiers. These do not seem to be people wanting freedom, but free stuff. But it also seems to be a hodge podge of extremists, criminals, & unwitting dupes. I am not a fan of banks or financial institutions in general. I am too familiar with history to trust them. They take advantage of people & exploit situations to their advantage.. but who doesn't? I would predict that any of the occupiers who had an opportunity to profit from a current event would do so.. just like our congress does when they are lucky in the stock market, just coincidentally related to a bill they are working on.

Self reliance is what made America. Dependence is what will kill it. What made us different from the euro states was we didn't look to the king, parliament, or any lords for our sustenance. Just get the hell out of our way, & we'll take care of ourselves, thank you very much. You don't have to go that far back in our history to see it. But that does not seem to be the direction the country is headed. Dependency & free stuff is what we want, now.

This is also the root of our division. It is defined fuzzily by the media, perhaps, but it is still that basic difference: Self reliance vs. Dependence. Small govt. vs. Big govt. Capitalism vs. Socialism.

"The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants."
Albert Camus

"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men."

If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else. 
Yogi Berra 

It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master. 
Ayn Rand 

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes. 
Jack Handey