Sacrificing to the Sacred Owl

In ancient religions, practiced by primitive cultures, it was customary to make sacrifices to sundry gods and idols. Some of the more sanguinary cults engaged in human sacrifice.

We like to consider such practices far removed from our civilized modern society. However, we make far more extravagant sacrifices to our sacred idols than the ancients ever dreamed of making.

While the ancients may have slaughtered the odd sheep or bull or virgin on the altar of an angry god, we sacrifice entire regions of our country, decimating their economies, wiping out employment for thousands of people, destroying their livelihoods and breaking up homes, creating widespread poverty and sending statistics on domestic violence, divorce, and drug abuse soaring through the roof, as once-productive and self-sufficient communities decline into indigence.

And to what powerful god are we making this enormous human sacrifice? Well, it’s not a god, exactly. It’s a Sacred Owl.

The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) was adopted in 1994 to “protect” the Sacred Owl. Nobody actually knew how many Sacred Owls existed at the time; nor did they know how many had existed in any previous period. Nobody had ever counted them. Instead, they created a model based on nesting habitat. Since Sacred Owls nest in “old growth,” and “old growth” was being reduced by logging, the model inferred that the Sacred Owl population must be declining also.

Based on this model, the powers that be concluded the Sacred Owl must be endangered. Since the Sacred Owl also requires younger stands and clearings for forage, the critical habitat designation was broadened to include most of the public forest lands in the Pacific Northwest. This opened the door for the environmental movement to litigate virtually any timber sale on public lands under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act.

Today, the environmentalists claim the Sacred Owl population is still declining at an alarming rate. So we must set aside even more land as “critical habitat,” sacrificing even more production, jobs, and communities. But, if the Sacred Owl population really is declining so rapidly, eighteen years after the NWFP was put into effect, then clearly the plan is not successful and should be scrapped. Why double down on a failed plan?

Perhaps, from the perspective of the environmental movement, the plan hasn’t really been a failure. Suppose, instead, it has been wildly successful. How could that be, if the Sacred Owl population is even worse off today than it was before the NWFP was implemented?

Let’s do a little thought experiment. What if the Sacred Owl was only a means to an end, rather than an end in itself? Suppose for a moment that the environmental movement wanted to eliminate logging on public lands. In order to accomplish that, they would need to find a law that would allow them to challenge any government timber sale and tie it up in litigation until the legal expenses exceeded the revenues.

The Endangered Species Act would serve that purpose well. They would just need to come up with an endangered species that lives in places where logging occurs. Of course, it couldn’t be just any endangered species, like an insect or rodent or fungus. It would have to be something cute and appealing, something cuddly-looking that people who live in cities would want to protect.

Enter the Spotted Owl. With apologies to Voltaire, if the Spotted Owl didn’t exist, the environmentalists would have had to invent him.

Serendipitously, the Sacred Owl has proven very lucrative for the environmental movement. They discovered another law, called the Equal Access to Justice Act, which requires the government to reimburse legal fees for the prevailing party in lawsuits against the federal government.

In the last four years alone, more than 570 lawsuits have been filed under the Endangered Species Act. When the environmentalists lose, it costs them very little because their attorneys belong to the movement. When they win, they can claim up to $500 an hour in attorney fees.

Just since 2009, U.S. taxpayers have paid the environmental movement more than $15 million in attorney fees for preventing the productive and sustainable use of natural resources on public lands.

So it’s easy to see why this owl is sacred to the environmental movement. It’s been very good to them. But how many more jobs, how many more communities, how many more local economies are we willing to sacrifice to this Sacred Owl, and to its high priests in the environmental movement, before we expose this dangerous cult for what it is? How many more sacrifices can our nation afford to make?

Take Our Country Back!

This is a Tax Freedom Day Rally speech from April 15, 2012 in Medford, Oregon.

Published in: on April 16, 2012 at 10:35 am  Comments (1)  
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Re-industrialize America

This is a Tea Party speech from April 15, 2011 in Grants Pass, Oregon.

A Culture of Complacency and Entitlement

From a historical perspective, America is still a young nation, yet we seem to have undergone an accelerated cycle of ascendency and decline. After rising from a handful of colonies to the richest and most powerful nation in the world, our country is now declining at an alarming rate under a collapsing economy and a culture of complacency and entitlement.

The rapid rise of this nation was due to a fortunate combination of abundant natural resources, a free market that provided opportunity for everybody, and a strong work ethic that was deeply ingrained in our culture. People immigrated here from all over the world seeking opportunities that uniquely existed here. – They didn’t come because they wanted a handout. There were no handouts. — They just wanted an opportunity to work hard, and to be compensated at fair market value for their industriousness and ingenuity. They were willing to struggle and sacrifice to carve out a better life for themselves and their descendents. That’s why they came to America.

That model worked exceptionally well. America prospered and flourished. We were the first nation ever to have a true middle class. – But then something changed, and we underwent a sudden phase shift from hard-earned ascendency into meteoric decline. What happened to our nation?

I see a direct correlation between the decay of the proud work ethic, upon which this nation was built, and the rise of the credit/entitlement culture. What does credit have to do with a sense of entitlement, or with the loss of our cultural work ethic? Let’s take a look at the moral hazard engendered by easy credit.

When somebody wanted to buy something, but couldn’t afford to pay for it in cash, they used to have to save up for it. Department stores had layaway plans, where a person could put an item on hold while they paid it off. They’d pay a little each month until it was paid in full and, when they made that final payment, they’d go to the store and proudly bring their new possession home. It was very clear how long it took to earn the money it cost to purchase a particular item, and people had to make tradeoffs based on what they could afford.

Then came credit cards. The idea was that you still pay a little every month, but you don’t have to wait until it’s actually paid off to take possession of it. Whatever you want, you can have it now, whether you can afford it or not. And, as long as you make a minimum payment each month, you can keep charging and charging and charging, with no immediate consequences. There’s no longer a clear relationship between what you buy and how long it takes to earn the money to pay for it. And, when you max out one credit card, you get another (usually with a higher interest rate).

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the ratio of household debt to income for the average American family is 122% . That means the average American family spends 22% more than they earn. Clearly, that is not sustainable for even one household – let alone an entire nation. Most Americans are maintaining a much higher standard of living than they can actually afford. And now that the credit market is tightening up, they will no longer be able to sustain it. Inevitably, most of these people will see themselves as victims because they feel entitled to the standard of living to which they’ve become accustomed, — even though they’ve spent most of their lives living way beyond their means.

Some blame the credit crisis on the lenders. That conveniently absolves individuals of taking responsibility for their own actions, and further promotes the entitlement mentality that got them into this untenable situation. To reward the “victims” by bailing them out at other people’s expense further compounds the moral hazard.

A recent publication by the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that almost 43% of Americans don’t even have a retirement savings account. Among those who do, the median amount of their retirement savings is $2,000. That won’t go very far these days.

It used to be part of the culture that everybody set aside a portion of their income, throughout their earning years, to save for their retirement. People routinely sacrificed conveniences and luxuries to build up a “nest egg” so they wouldn’t have to live out the remainder of their lives scraping by at a bare subsistence level. Regrettably, it seems that is no longer part of our culture. Since the Social Security program was introduced during the Great Depression, the subsequent generation of baby boomers never felt it necessary to save for their own retirement. After all, Daddy Government had relieved them of that responsibility by deducting money from every paycheck and setting it aside for them. So why should they bother to save?

Social Security is now officially projected to run out of money by 2037, and it could be a whole lot sooner. So what will happen to all these people who spent their entire lives living beyond their means, who have no savings and no retirement income? They will face a devastating reality from which they’ve been shielded all their lives. They are not entitled to the standard of living to which they’ve become accustomed. Daddy Government is broke, and cannot come to their rescue.

At least they’ll have fond memories of all the lattes, junk food, trinkets, and fads on which they squandered their money instead of saving for their retirement.

But how were they supposed to know? Everybody else was doing the same thing! – And that’s exactly why our once-great nation has fallen into bankruptcy, financially and morally. Because everybody was doing the same stupid thing, and it never occurred to them that they’d someday have to take responsibility for themselves.

 


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Published in: on August 19, 2010 at 10:18 pm  Comments (14)  
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Taking Our Country Back, Part 2

The reactions I’ve gotten to my Tea Party speech are varied. Some people seem to think I was saying we should all be good little Republicans and vote for whomever “they” put on the ballot. One person actually thought I was advocating taking up arms against our government. (Not sure how he got that…)

Let me clarify my intent. If we truly want to take our country back, and restore it to the Republic that our founding fathers intended, we need to do it within the framework established by our founding fathers. That means we do it by voting. Voting alone is not sufficent, however. We need to get actively involved.

Setting aside wishful thinking, and acknowledging the reality of our two-party system, if we want to effect change in our government, we need to control one of the two major parties. The Democrat Party has already been spoken for by socialists; we’re not going to get much traction there. The Republican Party was originally founded on the same principles on which the Tea Party movement is founded. It seems reasonable to believe we have a chance of restoring that party to its true, legitimate roots.

I believe the Republican Party has betrayed the principles on which it was founded, and has been betraying them for years. I’m by no means suggesting that conservatives should fall in with the party line. I’m saying the opposite. Conservatives should be the ones defining the party line. The party line (platform) is formulated by the members who actively participate as PCPs and delegates. It’s very easy to become a PCP, and the PCPs elect the delegates. If we want to take back the party, we have to do it from within. That means registering Republican and working as grass roots activists within the party to rebuild it from the ground up.

As individuals, whether it makes more sense to register Republican or third party depends on the goals we want to achieve. If our goal is to find other idealistic people who all agree with us, we’re more likely to achieve that goal in a third party, because it’s a smaller, more narrowly focused group. If our goal is to actually change our government, and truly take our country back, the very quality that makes third parties effective in achieving the first goal makes them unable to achieve the second. We need massive numbers to achieve change in government.

If we can concede that we will always have some differences, but work together on the common goals that are most important to all of us, we can stop this country’s slide toward socialism and actually turn it around. But it takes a willingness to focus on the core goals that unite us (small government, less regulation, lower taxes) and a willingness to set aside (at least temporarily) the issues that divide us. And it takes a willingness to commit some of our time and energy to the worthwhile effort of taking our country back.

The idea of taking up arms against our government seems to have an appeal to some people. As a realist, I’m very much aware that, no matter how many weapons we might stockpile, we cannot outgun the mightiest military the world has ever known. Military technology has come a long way since 1776. In fact, the government wouldn’t even need to send in the military to quell a rebellion today. They could just shut down the power grid. That’s reality.

I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t stockpile weapons. I’m just saying it won’t help us save our nation. However, if it should come to pass that we do actually lose our country, then a stockpile of weapons could come in very handy. But, by that point, our nation would already be irretrievably lost, along with the ideals and principles upon which it was founded. I hope and pray it never comes to that.

Tax Day Tea Party Speech: Taking Our Country Back

This is the speech I gave at the Southern Oregon Tax Day Tea Party.

Welcome to the Tax Day Tea Party! — Have you filed your taxes yet?
- Are you happy with way your taxes are being spent?
- Do you like the direction our county is going?
- Do you want to take our county back?

- How many of you are patriots?
- As a patriot, what are you willing to do for your country?
- Would you be willing to take up arms to defend your country?
- Would you be willing to take up a pen, and mark your ballot, and drop it in the mailbox?

You may not realize it, but the most patriotic thing you can do this year is vote! — This year, it’s absolutely imperative that we start taking our country back. And, in a Constitutional Republic, the way we do that is by voting.

The other day, I was talking to the publisher of a national conservative Web site. He told me he’d rather have Barack Obama as president than John McCain. I said why? He said, under either of them, the country would continue its slide into socialism. Under McCain, we’d just get there slower. But when things get really bad, really fast, the people will rise up and start a revolution.

I respectfully disagreed. I said that, sometimes, you have to slow down to turn around. You can’t make a U-turn while accelerating. — And, once you go over the cliff, it’s too late to slam on the breaks.

If we should ever get to the point where it’s necessary for citizens to take up arms against our own government, it will be way too late to save our nation. That’s why we need to start taking our country back now.

I’m here today to talk about how we can do that. But first I want to tell you a parable. — Once upon a time, there was a blue state that had one Republican senator. After a couple of terms in office, he had learned the “fine art of compromise” so well that he had slipped to the left of his core constituency. He was by no means a liberal, but he wasn’t nearly as conservative as he’d been when first elected, and a lot of conservatives were disenchanted with him.

Come the next election, he was challenged by a far left, Socialist-leaning, liberal Democrat. And a conservative 3rd party candidate decided to run against him, too. It was a very close race. When the votes were counted, the Democrat got just under 49%. The Republican got almost 46%. The 3rd party candidate got just over 5%.

The Democrat won. But, if you added together the votes for the Republican and the 3rd party candidate, they added up to just about 51%. By splitting the conservative vote, the 3rd party candidate handed the election to the Democrat.

But wait. There’s more! — Not only did the state lose its only Republican representative in Washington, it so happened that the Democrats were only one seat short of a super-majority in the Senate. The loss of that Republican seat gave them the super-majority they needed to pass the Obama Healthcare bill without even having to negotiate with the Republicans. — And the saddest part of this story is that it’s true. And it happened right here in Oregon, in the last election.

The moral is, if you withhold your vote from the lesser of two evils, you help the greater evil win. — What good is “voting your conscience” if the real world result is that you help push the nation further into socialism? — That’s not the way to take our country back.

I can relate to wanting to vote your conscience. I was a Libertarian for nearly 30 years. (And I still am a “small ‘l’” libertarian.) But a couple of years ago, it came to me that voting 3rd party is a lot like mailing your ballot to Santa Claus. It makes you feel really good, but it has absolutely no impact on the real world, or the outcome of the election, or the future of our nation. So, I may sound like a cynic, but I’m a realist. In the real world, results count.

Voting for RINOs year after year isn’t going to help us save our nation, either. Sometimes it’s necessary, to prevent a greater evil, but what we really need is a plan to get actual conservatives on the ballot.

And I have a plan. It’s a simple, workable, three-step plan to take our country back. Like I said before, I’m a realist. And the reality is that this is a two party system. The Democrat Party has been taken over by socialists. The Republican Party is in utter disarray. And, the more conservatives who splinter off into 3rd parties, and 4th parties, and 5th parties, the weaker it gets, — much to the delight of the Democrats.

The good news is, if you look at the Tea Party movement all across the nation, it’s clear that there are enough conservatives now that, if we were to all unite behind one party, we have enough votes to take our country back. — But that isn’t going to happen as long as we’re all pulling in different directions. And every 3rd party that’s formed for the purpose of bringing us all together only splits us up further. — To have a real impact, we need to all unite behind one party.

The Republican Party has traditionally been the party of small government, less regulation, and lower taxes. That’s what the Tea Party movement is all about. The Republican Party used to be the party of principle. It hasn’t been that for a long time. But, with our dedication, our motivation, and our numbers, we can take it back and restore it to the Grand Old Party that it used to be. We need to turn the tide, stop the exodus, and start a new flood of conservatives into the Republican Party.

Here’s the plan:

Step 1. Register Republican. Get your friends to register Republican. We need all the Tea Party conservatives across the nation to register Republican.

Step 2. Become a grass roots activist within the Republican Party. Become a PCP. PCPs are the ones who elect the delegates to the National Convention. Those delegates formulate the national party platform and select the presidential nominee.

Step 3. We need to elect our people to be those delegates. Then we’ll be the ones determining the platform and choosing the presidential nominee for the 2012 election.

We can do this! — And this is how we can take the Republican Party back. And that’s how we can take our government back. And that is how we can take our country back.

Thank you all for being patriots! — Together, we can take our country back! Let’s do it!

I Like Guns – The Musical

Thought you guys might enjoy this.


I did. :)

Published in: on February 13, 2010 at 2:02 pm  Comments (5)  
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Do Not Go Gentle into the Post-American Era

When the U.S. was a developing nation, we expended our efforts and capital in developing the infrastructure for industry. Our government provided incentives for the development and extraction of natural resources to be used as raw materials to build, not just products, but a thriving national economy. — And that’s exactly what China and other developing nations are doing today.

But, today, the U.S. is doing the opposite. Increasingly, over the past several decades, our government has been restricting the extraction of natural resources and dismantling the infrastructure for industry. Overregulation, combined with exorbitant and ever-increasing union demands, has succeeded in driving much of our industry offshore. If we want to recover our economy, we need to reverse that trend.

The recently published White House Plan to Revitalize Manufacturing, which focuses on federal funding for “green” technology R&D, is not likely to have a significant impact on our national productivity. This administration is thoroughly beholden to the unions and environmental lobbies. In true Chicago style, this administration has used the stimulus package to pay off political debts and, from every indication, will continue the trend of dismantling the economy in favor of political correctness and payback.

Every nation has a historical trajectory. This nation has apparently passed its apogee, and is now in decline. We no longer have the drive to overcome. We’ve become complacent and, instead of striving for ever greater industrial innovation and economic strength, we are focused myopically on the niceties that developing nations cannot afford to consider.

The problem is, there’s no such thing as stasis. A nation, a corporation, a species, an individual, must either advance or decline. That’s nature. And, as we sink into complacency, whining effetely about our declining economy, there will be others advancing to take our place as the dominant world power, industrially, economically, and (eventually) militarily. That’s a historical inevitability. The same pattern can be observed throughout nature and the history of civilizations. The only question is when.

At this point, we could still reverse that trend by, once again, becoming a developing nation ourselves — one can always develop further, if one is motivated to keep striving — but we, as a nation, lack that motivation. We’re apparently content to rest on our laurels as we sink into national senescence while other countries, like China, rise up on the international horizon. The world is always changing. It’s the nature of all things. The only question is, will we, as a nation, go gentle into that good night? Or will we rage, rage against the dying of the light?   (Apologies to Dylan Thomas.)

Unfortunately, I believe I know the answer to that rhetorical question. History is being written even as we go about our daily lives. You can see it in our relations with other nations, as we make concessions that cede our sovereignty in so many minor ways. Stepping back and observing from a historical perspective, we see a once-great nation, that no longer has the will to sustain its rank as the leader of the free world, stepping aside and leaving the field open to whoever will step up and take its place. Sadly, there’s no way to choose our successor. Once we step aside, we can only watch and hope for the best. And if we don’t like the way the world is shaping up in the post-American era, we will just have to suffer the consequences.


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Just for Laughs… (Or is it?)

It’s been a while, I know. I’ll be back…

But, in the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this.

Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 9:48 pm  Comments (10)  
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Delivering the Goods

The United States rose up from a handful of rebellious colonies to become the richest and most powerful nation in the world. Why? Because we led the world in production. For 200 years, America delivered the goods.

But, in the 1970’s, all that suddenly changed. For the first time in history, the U.S. started having trade deficits. That means our net consumption exceeded our net production. And, every single year since 1975, our nation has consistently consumed more than it produced. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that’s not sustainable.

The depressing truth is America is no longer a world leader in production. We are trailing the pack. We are now a debtor nation, and our biggest creditor is China. — What the hell happened? And how will we ever recover? And, the more disturbing question is, what will happen to America if we don’t?

If we ever want to restore America to its proper place in the world, the first thing we need to understand is why we no longer have a productive economy. It’s pretty simple, really. — Because we no longer produce. Why not? – If we take a good hard look at the nature of production, maybe we can figure that out. The three key elements of production are capital, labor, and raw materials.

First, you need capital for research and development. To develop a new product that meets a real need in the marketplace takes a lot of research. It may take many years to develop. Research and development is extremely expensive, and there’s no guarantee of success. There has to be an enormous potential return on investment to justify that kind of risk.

That kind of return on investment is what our current administration refers to as “excessive profits.” And they have this notion that “excessive profits” should be punitively taxed. When government puts a lid on the potential for return on investment, what happens? The investors take their capital and invest it someplace else, — someplace that welcomes production, and wants to build up their economy and provide employment for their population. (Unlike the United States, it would seem.)

The second thing you need for production is raw materials. No matter what you want to produce, you need some combination of raw materials to produce it, whether wood, paper, metal, glass, fiber, or petroleum products. All raw materials come from the earth; they don’t come out of the air, or some genius’ imagination, or the printing presses at the Federal Reserve. They all come out of the ground, either through timber, mining, or agriculture.

Here, in Southern Oregon, we live in one of the richest areas in the country, in terms of natural resources. We’re rich in timber. We’re rich in minerals. But, if this part of the country is so rich, why is it so poor? Why is unemployment so high? Because we’re not allowed to use the natural resources with which we’re abundantly blessed. Overregulation, and the endless environmental litigation it has spawned, has all but curtailed the timber and mining industries, — the very industries that provide raw materials for every sort of production on which our economy relies. And the overregulation doesn’t stop there. It’s hobbling the manufacturing industries, too.

The third thing required for production is labor. We’ve actually got a surplus of that. Look at our unemployment numbers, nationwide. Private sector jobs are steadily declining because our industries are stymied by excessive regulation and punitive taxation. So how does our government address that issue? It tries to replace the jobs lost due to declining production by creating new jobs in the public sector.

The trouble is those jobs do nothing to restore our national productivity. Public sector jobs and service jobs don’t create any new wealth. They just swirl money around in the economy. And, as that money swirls around, more and more of it leaks out to other countries, as we buy foreign-made products because we can’t or don’t produce enough at home.

As the real wealth leaks out of our economy, the Fed prints up more and more new money, which only dilutes the value of the money we already have in circulation, leading to higher and higher inflation. As long as we consume more than we produce, there is no way to add real value back into our economy, and our currency will continue to lose whatever value it has. We must restore production to have a sustainable economy.

This country was founded on the sacred principles of liberty and freedom. Not just individual freedom, but economic freedom. America became a world leader because America delivered the goods. That’s what it’s all about. That’s what it’s always been about. We have to stay solvent to preserve our liberty. If our economy fails, we’ll lose our freedom. Stifling production smothers the economy. And that’s what our government is doing.

Contact your Congressmen and Senators and tell them we want our economy back. Government can’t solve this problem. Government is the problem.


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