Philosophical Musings

Philosophical Musings

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cut US military presence in the world

This seems to be something most of us agree on. Why cannot we exercise our collective will to insist that our politicians not engage in illegal wars, & get some restraint on the use of our military. IMO, the military should ONLY be used to resist a direct threat. We should not sub-contract our military out, making foreign policy & deals using our military as a bargaining chip. We should not make 'preemptive strikes'. We need to make it a lot harder for presidents to engage our military.. at the very least a majority of congress should have to approve, & perhaps some laws regulating how & why they use it.

I have gotten a lot of this view from Ron Paul. I'm not a libertarian, nor do i support Paul, but in this i think he is right. The truth of this should strike a chord will all voters, & we should start insisting that our politicians make policy reflecting our values regarding war & the use of military might.

I don't think we have to throw up our hands in despair, bemoaning how corrupt the govt is, & how the military industrial complex does whatever they want. No, we the people can make a difference. Even if we have different views about the level of govt we want, we can agree that we no longer want our military used for shady business deals & foreign trade agreements. Obviously, we can't afford it, so fiscal conservatives should be on board with this, too.

I know this will take some time.. cutting back bases, foreign aid, etc, so we should get started. I don't see any downside for our politicians, except those in the pocket of the military industrial complex .. & if they vote against them, they can get more popular support. I think this is a pretty big deal, too.. one of THE most important roles of govt.. protecting the nation. They might distract us with their quibbling about gays or welfare, but this is one area we should call them to account.

"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

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

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

When the largest industry in the world is no longer War, I will accept Darwin's theory of Evolution.
Dale S. Mugford

How to cut the Federal Budget

I think there is a ton of stuff to cut from the federal govt:

1. Cut all foreign aid. We can't afford it, we have no business propping up tyrants or cronies of politicians, and 'american interests' is too vague & fuzzy to define in order to give billions of american taxpayer dollars away.

2. Pull out of all foreign military bases. Same reasons, and add that the us is not the world policeman, & we have no business bombing or killing citizens of other sovereign nations.

3. End the federal welfare state. Let the states provide a safety net. They can make it more suitable to their conditions, rather than have a 'one size fits all' policy. There would be less corruption, less waste, & it is easier for local govts to manage local problems, anyway.

4. Pick your acronym.. then end it. EPA, DOE, any and all of the bloated govt agencies that allege to manage us are mostly corrupt & unnecessary. The states can handle just about anything in those areas. Our representatives can pass laws regarding interstate & international commerce, & i'm all for reasonable rules for the environment & overall safety.. but we could let the states do that, too. The executive branch can enforce the laws, secure the border, manage immigration, & other things the constitution mandates.

5. Fix social security. During most of the history of the us we didn't have anything like social security. But if we want it now, it should be properly managed & funded, not like the ponzi scheme it has become. It would be better if we just required all people to put a percentage in an ira or 401k type of retirement acct. Or, if you'd rather it be risk based, require life insurance. I'm sure the actuaries could keep the costs pretty low if everyone paid into them, & if they got the kind that matured, they would not have more payments in later years.

6. Balanced budget amendment. It is immoral for one generation to rack up huge debts to leave to the following one. Each generation should pay for it's own mistakes, wars, social experiments, & whatever else they spend the taxpayers' money on. There would also be all the money saved on interest.

I'm sure there are more, but this is a good start. I see over 50% of our budget cut in some of these things. We can pay down the debt, pass the balanced budget amendment, have fair taxes for all, & get more free market growth & industry going.

I don't think many of these things can be done in one year. It would take time to wean many off of dependency.. foreign bases, aid, welfare, almost all will need a transition period to make it happen. But it can happen, & we should do it.

I'm also for campaign reform, & ending the lobby based revolving door to wealth that is the current system. I think if we took much of the discretionary spending from the politicians, there would not be much to lobby, & we'd see it decrease. It is like illegal immigration. End the money & you end the problem. If there were not fat govt contracts to get.. if a federal project like interstate highways is wanted, it can be voted for by the populace, put into an overseen management, & done. There would be little need for lobbyists to whisper in a politician's ear or bring expensive gifts if the politician had no real say in where the money went.

There is too much power in the hands of the federal govt. The money people.. bankers, military corporations, etc, all benefit from decisions made & the easy spending the govt does. The money follows the power, & feeds it. If we can get some of that power away from the govt, & return it to the people & a republic based nation of universal laws, we can limit the corruption that takes place. That will return more money to the people.. the bankers will have to woo us, rather than the politicians.

Nothing is easier than spending public money. It does not appear to belong to anybody. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody.
Calvin Coolidge

It is not that power corrupts but that power is a magnet to the corruptible.
Frank Herbert

Of course the truth is that the congresspersons are too busy raising campaign money to read the laws they pass.  The laws are written by staff tax nerds who can put pretty much any wording they want in there.  I bet that if you actually read the entire vastness of the U.S. Tax Code, you'd find at least one sex scene ("'Yes, yes, YES!' moaned Vanessa as Lance, his taut body moist with moisture, again and again depreciated her adjusted gross rate of annualized fiscal debenture").  ~Dave Barry

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fairness in Taxes

I have an idea. To keep the idea of fairness in taxes (which is an oxymoron & the point of my other post), why not have just millionaires pay taxes... let's say, 30% of what they make, however they make it. Everyone else gets a free ride.. no federal taxes. Of course, state, city, county, etc are still there, but those are local & generally are better managed & actually provide a service. But the federal govt has to get by on what the millionaires contribute in taxes. They have to fund the military, manage foreign affairs, interstate regulations & commerce. If a large national project is desired, like a big rail line, or an interstate highway system, they can let the people vote on it in an election.. like local govts do to raise money. If the voters don't approve, the project gets scrapped. If it does, the funding of the project is spelled out in the special funding laws that are managed & accounted for. No pork barrel. No insider deals. No revolving door.

On top of that, lets make the representatives' salary a little less lucrative.. they are public servants, after all. Lets have them get the same social security, the same health care, & the same retirement benefits as they deem adequate for the rest of the citizens.

While we're at it, campaign finance certainly needs looked at.. lobbyists & special interests have too much at stake with all the juicy govt contracts floating around. It would be a bit harder to lobby if there were conflict of interest restrictions, AND a public vote for any big projects they might want to influence the outcome of.

Oh, and i like the idea of not taxing wages.. but you'll have to put a dollar amount on that, or the corporate cogs will just put ALL their compensation into wages so they don't have to pay taxes. The big sports & hollywood celebrities, too. It wouldn't be FAIR for some jock to make $200M a year & not pay taxes, would it?

And of course, this assumes a balanced budget. There would not be much of a point in limiting the govt tax base if they just spend wildly on credit. I can't believe we made it 200+ yrs without a balanced budget amendment.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Atheists & Afterlife

I don't see how the question of an afterlife can be considered unimportant. If there is no afterlife, this life is all there is. You live. You die. There may be many or few years between.. filled with nothing, dramatic exploits, or insignificant deeds. This is basic existentialist reasoning. IF there is an afterlife.. if life or some form of it continues for eternity (or thereabouts) what could be more important than that? It is a major fallacy to think a few years here & then eternal darkness has more significance than a few short years here then eternity in a different form, whether with consciousness or not.

A true atheist has to grasp that. He (using the word generically, not sexually) has to come to grips with eternal darkness & non-existence. This life is all there is. To face eternal non-existence is a very sobering endeavor. It is not done lightly or with any back door escapes. A lot of professing atheists are only theists who are mad at god. They don't really believe in eternal non-existence. They are too flippant about eternity, & have not really faced the insignificance & pointlessness of life. They are throwing philosophical tantrums in hope that god will give them special treatment.  Or they are trying to be shocking to get attention.  But they lack the seriousness their philosophy suggests.

Some argue that atheists, since they have no hope of an afterlife, are more fully committed to this life.  I don't see it as being 'fully committed to this life' as much as being fully committed to one's philosophy. IF you truly believe an eternal paradise awaits you if you die killing infidels, you can justify your actions. It is the belief system, not this life, that the person is motivated by. If i am talking to an atheist, i do not think, 'oh, this person is fully committed to this life, therefore i can trust him'. Atheists can lie as well as any theist, & can kill & steal, too. I'm not subscribing superior morality to any philosophical position. If there is a superior morality, it depends more on the individual, not the philosophical leanings of his position. Hypocrisy is rampant in humans.

Then you will hear people say that this or that person is 'good'.  I don't know what 'good' is. That is a moral judgment, & has to have some sort of basis. Whose definition do we use? Budda's? Jesus? Marx? Mine? Yours? 'Good' is like beauty or art.. it is in the eye of the beholder. This is from a purely philosophical standpoint. In the real world we appeal to what is good, & have some point of reference to agree. But without a common basis, 'good' can mean different things.

We should learn from all times, & be open to all ideas. Prejudice & closed mindedness may be easier and more comfortable, but it does not enlighten.

But if there is one TRUTH, which obviously there is, then what that truth is has more direct effect on us than what we might imagine or believe, whether based in long standing tradition or recent ideas. If there is a god, & he wants something from you, i would propose that to be of prime importance. One would have to be a fool to believe there to be eternal consequences for something, but not care. I submit that the person who says one thing, but lives another does not reinforce their position, but weakens it. They don't really believe it. That is the basis for human hypocrisy.

IF there is a god of wrath who throws the wicked into hell, yes, that would be very uncomfortable. IF that is true, disbelieving it won't make it go away.

Fortunately, as humans, we have evolved to the philosophical smorgasbord we have now. If we don't like a particular idea, we dismiss it & pick something we do like. But the true truth seeker does not care about the consequences of the Truth, but only in finding it. The opinions, writings, & judgments of others do not matter. Only the real truth is important. The personal discomfort or affect on the truth seeker's lifestyle do not matter. What is truth? That is the question.

We seldom ponder life's deeper meanings with our friends & associates. The anonymity of the internet & the written word allows some reflection, & can be a means of pursuing truth. But of course it is also a place for fools to babble. We should not allow the hypocrisy or folly of others to distract us from the pursuit of truth & understanding.

“I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn’t wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.”
Bertrand Russell

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare

The person lives most beautifully who does not reflect upon existence.
Friedrich Neitzsche

I considered atheism, but there weren't enough holidays.

I believe in God; I just don't trust anyone who works for him.

Taxes & Fairness

What's fair about taxes? All this talk from Obama & the left going on and on about people 'paying their fair share' is getting a little old. Fairness & taxes do not go together. There is nothing 'fair' about taxes. It is extortion from a powerful entity taking the property of someone else. Throughout history the kings of the earth have extracted taxes from their citizens or their conquests to pay for their wars & keep them in luxury. If you don't pay your taxes, you get thrown in prison & your property is confiscated. It is the same today.

But we in America have a bit of history with taxes & the govt. We got tired of the King taxing our labors to finance some european conflict. Then we got more tired of supporting an occupying army, put in place to make sure we paid our taxes. So some years back, we rebelled. We declared our right to throw off the shackles of oppression, & 'institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to us shall seem most likely to effect our safety and happiness.'

Most citizens don't mind paying a reasonable amount of their resources to a government entity, if the services provided are beneficial to the nation. We pay for schools, police & firemen. We pay for military protection. We pay for basic administration, regulation & oversight of laws, enforcement, & punishment. And we pay for management of our foreign affairs. Americans put in place a constitution to provide a government that handles these basic duties.

But over the years, those in government have expanded their role.. they have found new things they can get involved in, for the good of the people. They have built an empire of government employees & programs.. to help us. They have extended their reach to all parts of the world, using our money to meddle in other nation's affairs, even killing & oppressing other nations. I know that during times when our national survival is at stake, we have to sacrifice & provide more to our govt to protect us. But when those times are over, the government should return to a more modest role, providing basic services to it's citizens. That has not happened. Our government has increased, taxed us more, & become dominant, wanting control of every aspect of our lives.

America has changed, & is still changing. Unless we turn from this trend to statism, our freedoms will end, & the America of history will be over.

Taxes are not fair. It is a big thug taking from us what we cannot protect. Some people don't mind if someone else gets mugged, just as long as it's not them. But once you let the muggers roam the streets, mugging anyone they want at will, eventually they will mug you too.

How about instead, we cut back the size & scope of govt so they don't require so much? The problem we have been facing with our government is not insufficient taxes, it is too much spending. That is why we are in debt. That is what has put us to the edge of financial collapse. So no more flowery eloquence & propoganda about paying a 'fair share'. There is nothing fair about paying taxes. It is a necessary evil at best, & an oppressive taskmaster at worst.

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government. 
Thomas Jefferson 

Men naturally rebel against the injustice of which they are victims. Thus, when plunder is organized by law for the profit of those who make the law, all the plundered classes try somehow to enter -- by peaceful or revolutionary means -- into the making of laws. According to their degree of enlightenment, these plundered classes may propose one of two entirely different purposes when they attempt to attain political power: Either they may wish to stop lawful plunder, or they may wish to share in it.
Frederic Bastiat

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

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.” 
Groucho Marx

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

daily thoughts

I'm a constitutionalist.. I see the declaration of independence & the constitution as amazing documents, where the idea of individual freedom was born, took root, & has grown to where we are. I am also very opposed to the trend toward socialism/statism that we have seen in the last century or so. I had high hopes for Obama, but his true agenda became clear soon enough, & his masquerade as a moderate was exposed. I will take newt or mitt, warts & all, rather than another 4 yrs of executive orders & more statist policies.

I am most fearful for the financial ruin that our govt has brought upon us. I am hopeful for change, & responsible fiscal representatives, but i have hoped (and voted) for that for years & gotten empty promises.

I am convinced that we as citizens need to wake up to the divisiveness, propaganda, & outright lies from those in leadership. We need to find some honest public servants, who are not just riding the revolving door to wealth. I hear good things from many.. they need to be supported & more like them voted in. We can end the plunder of the public treasury by corrupt & vain charlatans whose only interest is personal gain. We can change the culture.. we must change the culture.

It is easy to settle into cynicism.. to curse all politicians & say there is nothing we can do.. or to retreat into party ideology & curse the other side. But if we the people remain passive, we will only have more of the same, & the era of america will be over.

"We the People are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts--not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."
Abraham Lincoln

I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.
Thomas Jefferson

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
Samuel Adams

"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government."
Thomas Paine

Monday, January 23, 2012

Constitutional Freedom

Here's part of the 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. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

It seems pretty straightforward.. the 'self evident' truths are:
1. that men are created equal
2. they are endowed by their creator with unalienable rights, which are:
   a. Life
   b. Liberty
   c. Pursuit of happiness.

This is the premise.  The logical conclusion:

1. The purpose of govt. is to secure these rights.

Think of it like computer programming.. This is an 'if/then/else' routine.

IF = Men are granted rights by their creator: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness
THEN = Govts are instituted to secure these rights and get their power from the people
ELSE = When govts don't do their job, the people can alter or abolish it & make one that does

I still find this one of the most simple yet revolutionary concepts in human history. It is the basis for America.

Change is inevitable, & is also possible in the us constitution. We've done it many times in our history, so it can be done. Amendments have been altered, added, & repealed. The system works. It is not easy or efficient, perhaps, but the checks & balances protect us from whimsical changes that have not been thought through or debated.

By and large, the founders were religious, and reflected their times. Many were less so.. prefering the label 'deist'. But they still saw the need to secure religious freedom. To avoid a sectarian slant, jefferson phrased it like this:

"to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them"

So anyone who prefers 'nature' to god can do so easily in the US. The govt secures the religious freedom of the citizenry. It does not 'establish' any particular religion or philosophy. The proliferation of denominations, religious sects, philosophical positions & ideologies show that this freedom has been pretty successful in the us.  Now maybe some do not like all this religious freedom.. or freedom of the press.. or speech.. or allowing citizens to be armed. But unless they can go through the long process of changing the constitution, the rights remain. The bigger danger seems to be when the branches of govt do not follow the constitution. Activist judges limit, infringe, or outlaw our basic rights. Executive orders are given which are not provided for by law, yet the executive branch gets away with it. Congress whimsically passes laws that have no constitutional authority or provision. These are are the real dangers to our constitution. We need to insist on elected officials who will follow the constitution. If they want to change it, fine. Do the work & change it. But this slithering behind the scenes & whittling away at our freedoms is unacceptable.

"The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government -- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."
Patrick Henry

"If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."
Samuel Adams 

Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty. 
Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Religious bigotry

I had no idea that so many people have been molested by priests or other religious leaders.. there seems to be a lot of hostility directed toward 'religion'. I agree that religions in general are used by politicians to justify many evils, but it looks to me like a baby & bathwater thing.

Of course, i have a broader view of 'religion'. I think everyone has a religion or a philosophy that motivates & inspires them.

People don't have to be 'religious' to be bigots, either, but they have a worldview that brings them there. Atheists, agnostics, new age goddesses, & fundamental christians all have a view of life that motivates them. Some of them have character flaws, too.

I think it is kind of bigoted to bash another's world view just because you don't believe it. I see more hatred & intolerance toward 'religious' people from seemingly intelligent people than from racists.

I can probably find more things that other people believe that i don't. Does that make them bigoted or stupid? Maybe. Or maybe they have a different point of view, or maybe they are just wrong. Maybe i'm wrong. I've been wrong before, & am very likely wrong now in many of my perceptions. I know this is highly unlikely, but i'm open to even a slim possibility.

But who cares. Hate away at all the other haters. That's what really makes us human, after all.

Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw

“I think we ought always to entertain our opinions with some measure of doubt. I shouldn’t wish people dogmatically to believe any philosophy, not even mine.”
Bertrand Russell

"If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised."
Dorothy Parker

Evil Corporations?

It seems to me the vitriol from the 'occupy' movement is directed towards 'evil business', when it is the crony capitalism that is the primary problem. It is the unholy alliance between the govt & govt sponsored corporations, pacs, unions, etc. It is grossly unfair to lump all business in with those charlatans. Most businesses are responsible, hire people, treat their people & customers fairly, etc. The ones that don't seem to be mostly the 'too big to fail' crowd.. those with their hands in the politician's pocket, & their lobbyist whispering in their ear. THAT is the kind of corruption we need to address. We are letting the extreme left convince us to abandon capitalism & throw out the baby with the bathwater. We need to fix the govt run corporate corruption, but we do not need to throw out all of the free market & american business.

Capitalism and communism stand at opposite poles. Their essential difference is this: The communist seeing the rich man and his fine home says, “No man should have so much.” The capitalist seeing the same thing says, “All men should have as much.”
Phelps Adams

They were touched not so much with love of the many as with hatred of the few.
Sidney Webb

We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system under all conditions.
Adolf Hitler

Friday, January 20, 2012


I hunted a lot as a kid in Missouri, but not much since coming to az 25+ yrs ago. I had an old 16ga rem 870 i bought used when i was 16.. gave it to my older son for xmas cpl yrs back. I inherited my dad's old k22 masterpiece.. a s&w beauty. I used to hunt squirrels with it. I also got his 38 spc revolver. .. and i have a couple of 22 rifles. a rem. nylon 77 & ithaca single shot.

But in the last few years, i've added to my old collection. I decided to get a more modern rifle, so got a bushmaster 223, & a bolt action tikka 308. My son in law got me started with another handgun, a glock 19. I've got a couple more 22's & some 12 ga. I went duck hunting up in ogden last year, & got a semi 3.5" tristar.. cheap but functional. Also have a pump & an older browning A3.

I guess that sounds like a lot.. it is surprising how things like this accumulate. They don't wear out, & if you take care of them, don't lose them , break them, or get them stolen, they will last for generations.

I know most countries in the world do not have a second amendment like we do in the us. Looking over the history of the world, i believe it has contributed to our longevity as a nation.. having a well armed citizenry. The Japanese ruled out invading the us in early ww2, because they thought 'there will be a rifle behind every blade of grass'.

Many in the rest of the world probably do not understand how the 2nd amendment is a good thing, but in states where there are fewer restrictions, there is actually less crime. We have a naturally inbred distrust of our govt. It is part of our dna. The govt cheerleaders want us to let them have more power over us.. restrict us more, but hopefully they will not succeed & the us will remain a beacon of individual freedom. We have the longest active constitution in the world, & it can last longer if we can stop the run toward statism we have been on for a while.

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

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel."
Patrick Henry 

"If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."
Samuel Adams

Friday, January 6, 2012

Defense cuts

I listened to some of Obama's announcement on defense cuts today.. i don't have a problem with it, but i also am more ron paul in my military views. I don't think we should be the world policeman, nor have bases all over the world, nor take any military action without full congressional approval & financing. Jefferson did not want the govt to go to war without paying for it. It is irresponsible for the usa to engage in imperialistic ventures & charge it to their kids.

If we're providing 'protection' for the rest of the world, why not charge for the 'protection?'

In a rare case, i support what Obama is doing, here. He still has a bigger defense budget than Bush, he's just cutting back on the army. The navy & airforce are getting plenty. Considering current defense strategies, this makes sense. We do not need a large invasion force. It's still over 400k soldiers, so if we have to invade canada or iran we could still do it. But if we only need to bomb some country into oblivion, we can do that with the air force & navy. If we're planning a war with china, then we don't need a big army, anyway.

When will we end the meddling in the world? Why do we have to rattle our sabers at everyone & lead by intimidation? We are a free people, with our values in the constitution & the declaration of independence. What we currently do in the world does not reflect any of that. We do not have to retreat into isolationism, but surely there is a balance we can arrive at. We can be good world citizens without meddling in every corner of the earth.

It is time for people to see the unholy alliance between the military establishment, politicians, & business. It is time for us to insist on fiscally responsible spending on defense, & not be 'scared' into voting for military expansion. We need to cut the military budget even more, imo. I'm for a strong national defense, but we are attempting a world defense, & we cannot afford it.

Too much of our foreign policy is to promote business interests.. pre & post ww2, & even now. I do not think it is the responsibility of the american taxpayer to protect business ventures in risky regions. They can hire their own mercenaries, bribe the officials, or go elsewhere. We should be more ideological & less financial in our policies. We should encourage trade with other countries, promoting fair policies for all parties. We should not fund other nations. Why should a country founded on the principle of freedom support a totalitarian govt? This has been a ruse foisted upon us by the banks & big business to make sweet trade deals. The american taxpayer's interests are not to see Mubarek in power, oppressing the Egyptian people, nor propping up some latin american dictator so we can get cheap bananas.

We seem to get along ok with China & some other countries with ideological differences. We could also get along with Muslim states.. even the fanatical caliphate promoting states... if we didn't bomb them & take an adversarial stance at every opportunity. We have good trade relations with the saudis, for example.. but probably not as much if we started bombing them.

What's wrong with us being just another contributing member of the world of nations? Why do we have to be personally involved in everything everywhere? We have been used, & are being used to bring stability to regions where it is not naturally there. We are not allowing the people of a region to choose what govt they want..we are telling them what they will get.

If americans want to support freedom fighters, let them. But it should not be the place of our govt to pick winners & losers in other nations. Yes, at times the rulers will not be friendly, or there will be tension. How is that any different from now?

This is not an isolationist position, imo. We have been overly meddlesome, & need to cut back. We can have a say in world affairs, but i do not see justification for the american arrogance of dictating how things will be, based on some politician's (with a lobbyist whispering in his ear) opinion of what is best for the people in question.

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

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

"If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin."
Samuel Adams

US budget: waste & fraud

I've been hearing every politician since Carter promise to battle waste & fraud in washington. Obama even planned on savings from fraud elimination in his budget projections, when he cut medicare to pay for other things. Most of us agree that the corruption, waste & fraud are real problems in the us budget. Every dept from the military to medicare suffers from them.

What can be done? Each party & candidate promises reform, but nothing gets done. Here's a possible plan.

1. Make across the board 10% cuts in every dept. That shouldn't be too hard, & no one will suffer too much. Most taxpayers have had to cut a lot more than that, so it can be done.

2. Use some of those savings to fund an investigative dept.. an efficiency team.. to look for waste, fraud, overlapping jurisdictions, etc. These will have to be mean, surly bean counters who will not flinch with the knife. There will have to be an independent auditor over all, who is not beholden to any sector. They will have to be given the power to shut down departments within departments, fire people, & prosecute criminals.

3. I think we can expect a minimum of 10% savings within a short time of the investigations, & more as they delve deep into the inner workings of the govt. They can make recommendations to congress to eliminate some departments, & congress can eliminate those it should not be in, anyway.  So we're at at least a 20% savings now.

We can take a page from our own history. Remember the House Committee on Un-American Activities? The one who blacklisted hollywood types searching for commies? Well, if we transferred our fear of commies into a fear of overspending, we could do it. We can bring every dept head before this committee, trembling as they justify every dime they spend, & under close scrutiny.

"Mr Chairman, those muffins were really good.. they were easily worth $16."

"This committee finds you guilty of waste & fraud. Your job is forfeit, & you will be under house arrest until we determine the level of punishment, either firing squad or community service."

We don't need to raise no stinkin' taxes. We need to cut the spending. Cutting waste, overlap, fraud, & corruption would have the added benefit of encouraging the tax base.. they wouldn't mind paying taxes seeing them used more efficiently. We could more clearly define what our federal govt should & should not be involved in.

We need to see our debt as a danger to our country.. more so than communism in the last century. More than the taliban.

The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there'd be a shortage of sand.
Milton Friedman

I have never seen more senators express discontent with their jobs. ... I think the major cause is that, deep down in our hearts, we have been accomplices to doing something terrible and unforgivable to this wonderful country. Deep down in our hearts, we know that we have bankrupted America and that we have given our children a legacy of bankruptcy. ... We have defrauded our country to get ourselves elected.
John C. Danforth