Worldview: Rage participation is better than none at all

Let’s face it. Donald John Trump is turning out to be everything anyone who actually paid attention during the 2016 presidential election cycle thought he would be. He is now doing things people detest for reasons they detest and, in doing so, is upsetting the apple cart of the status quo in the federal government in ways people are infuriated by.

Yet, for all Trump’s flaws, this is exactly what our nation needs. We need to be uncomfortable. We need to have things to oppose. We need to be enraged. Because, in the end, that’s the only way to get anyone to participate anymore.

You see, American politics is and always has been a full contact sport, but during my lifetime, millions of Americans have either stopped participating altogether or have convinced themselves that participation involves nothing more than voting every couple of years.

With the election of Trump and all that entails, things have already changed. Suddenly, millions of people care. Their care spilled into the streets with protests. People are following news in ways they haven’t for decades. Opposition groups are forming outside the control of traditional political organizations. People are seeking out ways to actively participate in the 2018 midterms and beyond.

It’s sad that it took the election of someone like Trump to ignite that kind of desire to participate, but if that’s what it takes, then so be it. Rage participation is better than no participation, so long as We the People do what we should have been doing all along.

So, yes, it’s going to be a long four years. Trump is going to enrage millions with his ridiculousness, but if all people do is complain, so what? Do something about it, and that will make all the difference in the world.

DLH

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Worldview: The least significant digit of democracy

Come November 8th, if all you’ve done is vote, you’ve done the least significant thing in democracy.

It turns out that democracy is a contact sport. Voting for someone to represent you, especially in the American system of voting, constitutes little more than an affirmation of choices a long list of other people made for you.

Let’s start with the process of voting itself. It is governed by a whole host of laws and regulations you likely had nothing to do with. Someone else determined where you vote, how you vote, and if your vote counts.

And then there’s the matter of what you’re voting for. By the time you punch that chad or push that touch screen, someone else determined who would run, whose runs would get funded, who became the front-runners, and if you didn’t vote in the primary, who is on the ballot.

So, then, how much does your vote count in the face of all that?

I am not saying voting does not matter at all, because it certainly does. Voting is a basic process of democracy. But just as watering a plant is not the only thing that keeps it alive–it needs good soil, enough sunlight, the right kind of nutrients, and a host of other things–so too voting is not the only thing that makes for a successful democracy.

I grant you that one person, by themselves, will have a hard time influencing the process, but that fact makes participation more important, not less. By participating, you can band together with like-minded people, and as your group grows, your influence grows.

And with that influence, voting day becomes far more significant, because you were part of the system that determines the outcome of all the things I have mentioned and so much more.

If, therefore, you want your vote to count the most, make November 8th a beginning rather than an end. Get out there and participate in the whole process instead of just the least significant part.

DLH

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Worldview: The only way is forward

I don’t know about you, but the past few years have been particularly rough ones for me. To be fair, some of that roughness has been self-inflicted, but there as been as much or more coming from outside as there has been from inside.

It would be far too easy to descend into some kind of self-lament, but the fact is that such thoughts lead to nothing more than excuses. The fact is, as rough as the past few years have been, the next few are not going to get any better if I sit around complaining and waiting for others to do something about the problems I see them creating or advancing.

No, for each one of us, the only way is forward. Each of us has to decide whether we are going to wait and complain or to act. I choose to act, and I hope to inspire you to do so as well.

The way I see it, this year–2013–is a make or break year for a lot of us for a lot of reasons. I know I believe it is for me personally, and I get the feeling that a lot of people feel the same way.

So, what are we going to do about it?

Now, the fact is that I am about as inspiring as a drunk TI with anger management issues, so I will try to let others do the inspiring on my behalf. (See what I did there?)

Now, visit Caine’s Arcade.

Why kids? Because if they can do this stuff, what’s your excuse? And, here are some people who are inspiring me: Chris and Janine PlugerGene Logsdon. Gene Veith. Jennifer Grubb. Keba Hitzeman. Limor Friedman. Peter Hitzeman.

And, now, go find some things that inspire you. Then report back. I want to know what you’re doing to make this the year we make it!

DLH

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Worldview: Stop SOPA/PIPA

Tomorrow, Worldview and the rest of my active websites will be blacked out from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. in protest against the Stop Online Piracy Act/Protect Intellectual Property Act wending their way through Congress right now. These are bad bills conceived for bad reasons intended for bad purposes and they should not have ever been put forward let alone have the chance to go into law.

These pieces of legislation also represent part of ongoing actions on the part of our government, bot the executive and Congress, to encroach on the liberties of individual citizens for reasons that have nothing to do with making those citizen’s lives better. Examples include the latest iterations of the Patriot Act, the social media surveillance of social media by the Department of Homeland Security, a provision in the Defense Authorization Act that allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens suspected of terrorism links, and the individual mandate provisions of the health care law.

Unless we the people–which people the government is supposed to be of, by, and for–stand up against such abuses, we have no hope of securing our liberty for ourselves or for future generations. We must act now or lose more. You can start by speaking out against SOPA/PIPA by contacting your representatives using the form from the menu on the right. Then you can go further by carefully considering how you vote in 2012. Finally, you can realize that the next election begins the moment the last one ends and become involved in the entire political process.

Act now or lose more.

DLH

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Worldview: 9-12

So, now what are you going to do?

For most people, it’s just another Monday. We remembered yesterday, reminisced, maybe read some stories from that day, watched a profile or a service on TV, maybe even shed a few tears. For most people, it’s time to get back to normal life, to put that bad stuff behind us. Ten years is enough remembering right?

But for a few of you, doubt remains. Is this all there is? Is this normalcy what I’m supposed to be doing?

If you will allow me, I am talking to you, the latter who have doubts.

Everything did change ten years ago yesterday. Our enemies revealed the flaws in the great city shining on the hill that is the United States. We made those flaws cracks by our own incessant disunity. Now everything is crumbling.

Yet, this is not the end.

The history of the human race is one of ebbs and flows. Great nations rise, only to crumble and collapse, then to be replaced by others. Throughout it all, people endure as they always have.

The great revelation the United States brought to the world is the notion of the equal liberty of all individuals, regardless of race, creed, color, sex, or religion. No, this has not been an easy or consistent revelation, but the cause of individual liberty is not one that will die even if the United States does.

And in that cause, I find a new beginning. It is almost inevitable that the United States will be replaced by something else, whether that happens now or at some time in the future. For those of us who have the benefit of history, intellect, and foresight, the thing that must now confront us is the realization that we must prepare now for whatever might come next.

What do these preparations look like? Well, if the foundation of this next era is the cause of individual liberty, then such preparations must conform to that foundation.

What we know about liberty is that it is not a license but a responsibility. Liberty has a cost that has to be paid, and the cost of liberty, in the end, is every individual’s responsibility.

What that means, to me, is that we must prepare for whatever comes next by focusing on the nature of the cost of liberty. To me, the nature of that cost is every individual succeeding on the merits of his or her own effort.

Now, this kind of success is not some sort of idealistic individualism. It is not possible for most people to survive without the benefit of others. However, every person must dedicate himself to the fulfillment of the tasks he undertakes, figuring out how to minimize his burden to others while creating the maximum benefit.

In fact, that state of affairs—everyone working together to their maximum potential—represents the way that some of the most fantastic advancements in human history have occurred: the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution.

So what remains is for each person to figure out how to best be a part of that state of affairs in the face of whatever might come next. This realization happens as each person discovers the best way to apply his effort within communities that will best benefit from that effort.

I grant that this is not an easy task, but if you believe that there has to be something more, then it is a necessary task.

It is my hope and my prayer that you will realize these things for yourself and will join me in accepting this challenge in the time to come.

DLH

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Worldview: 9-11

I solemnly swear that I will always remember what happened on September 11, 2001.

I will not forget.

I will not forget that nearly 3,000 of my fellow Americans were murdered in the name of an ideology of hate.

I will not forget that my inalienable right is liberty.

I will not forget that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

I will not forget that the price of liberty is mine to pay.

I will not forget my brothers and sisters who give freely of themselves to ensure the liberty of others.

I will not stand by and watch my liberty or anyone else’s be taken away.

And I affirm that I will do everything within my power to uphold and advance the cause of liberty.

I will succeed on the merits of my own work.

I will, as I am able, encourage and help others to do the same.

I will not forget charity.

I will stand for liberty for as long as I have breath.

And when my time comes, I will do my best to ensure what I have done lays the foundation for those who follow after.

To this I pledge myself, my honor, and my life. May the God of my fathers grant me success.

Dennis L Hitzeman

September 11, 2011

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Worldview: Stop trying to preserve government programs and do it yourself

As the budget and deficit talks between Congress and the White House drag on, I have been reading a lot of articles, especially from progressive sources, about how people need to act to preserve this or that spending program because of how beneficial it is. Almost every one of those programs shares very specific characteristics: they are almost always focused at a local problem and are almost always focused at helping individuals do something.

Here’s my idea: why not abandon the federal programs and try making these things happen ourselves if they’re really worth doing.

“But,” you might say, “where is the money going to come from?”

Isn’t that kind of the whole point? Because the federal government is taking so much money out of the the economy in taxes, there is no money for local people to do local things. If that reality is the case, then it makes sense to let the federal programs expire, let the money reenter the economy, and let local people take over doing local things.

Of course, the problem is a lot more complicated than that. For instance, even if the federal government makes these cuts, it won’t add up to the $1 trillion in deficit spending projected for next year, nor will it really dent the $14 trillion in debt the federal government has already accrued.

No, even if these locally focused federal programs expire, there still may not be money, and that reality must force local people focused on local things to consider an even more aggressive approach. In my view, it’s time for us to rebuild our localities so that they can withstand the disaster our federal–and state, really–governments have inflicted upon us.

This aggressive approach means abandoning the government solution in favor of hard work and sacrifice at the local level. It means accepting that the government, and the people who continue to benefit from government spending, is going to continue to rip us off. It means deciding to work together to find local solutions to local problems even when there is no money. It means caring enough about what happens to us and our neighbors that we’re willing to do what it takes to make things work for us.

These things can happen, but people have to do them. I will give you an example:

This year, the village of Covington, Ohio and several enterprising individuals started a farmer’s market (Facebook) on Friday nights in the parking lot of the government building there. It’s a small market, one I participate in, but it has the distinction of having no government involvement except at the local level.

Now, this market will live and die on two things: will people from the area who are doing things participate, and will people who live in the area frequent it? Frankly, this is a test of whether people believe a local thing can work, and it’s up to the local people to make it work.

Some might say that it’s just a farmer’s market, but I say it’s more than that: it’s local; it’s independent; it’s focused on the community; it’s the way jobs and the future will be created. But, these things will only be true if people actually participate.

So, here’s the test: will people participate locally, or will they keep expecting someone else to solve the problem for them? It’s up to you to decide.

DLH

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Worldview: Slow motion disaster

I cannot help but get the sense as I watch events unfold in Greece that we are watching the unfolding of a slow motion disaster, the beginning of a whole series of disasters as western economies begin to fold under the weight of the incredible debt they have accrued over the past 50 years paying for social programs their nations could never afford.

No one ever wants to believe these kinds of things will happen to them or in the time they are living, but a quick look around the world right now with any kind of realistic outlook shows that they are happening and that they are going to affect every one of us soon.

The question that remains is what each of us is going to do in response to the massive and enduring changes that will result from this slow motion disaster. Now is the time for people who care to stop talking in terms of rhetoric and to start doing. Get ready while there is still time to do so.

DLH

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Worldview: And you call yourself independent…

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. — The 9th Amendment to the US Constitution

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people. — The 10th Amendment to the US Constitution

Once upon a time, the United States was founded on the principle that the best way for people to live was to maximize their liberty and minimize their governments. In an effort to ensure that state of affairs, the founders of the United States crafted a Constitution and ten amendments designed to ensure that the federal government was bounded and that the liberty of the people was unbounded. Certainly, that founding document had glaring flaws, left certain things unresolved, and failed to anticipate things that have since occurred, yet the principle ideal was sound then and is sound now.

At least, it is sound in theory. Unfortunately, over the intervening 235 years, many Americans have decided that the liberty granted them by foresight, determination, and blood was just too much for them. They have traded their liberty for security, are deserving of neither, and have lost both.

Most Americans see no irony in the fact that they have allowed their government to violate the Constitution by allowing it to force them to pay for unemployment security, medical security, and retirement security; every one of which programs are failing to deliver on their promises while simultaneously bankrupting even those who do not want to participate in them.

And that last part is the real rub. Certainly, it is possible under the ideals of liberty for a group to decide to cede their liberty, but what has happened, especially in the last half of the 20th century, is that some groups have  forced all groups to give up liberty.

So, what are you celebrating if you celebrate independence today? How do you exercise your independence–not just the several liberties guaranteed by the amendments but the innumerable ones not enumerated there? If you are dependent on the government can you even celebrate independence?

These are hard things, and they are supposed to be hard. Liberty is hard. Freedom is hard. The things the founders did were hard. The things 235 years worth of patriots did to secure our nation were hard. Now it’s our turn, and if we do not get to work, we are going to lose what they secured for us.

DLH

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Worldview: The global attack on productivity

I often wonder–as the debates rage on about government budgets, deficits, and taxation–how many people realize that most taxation is an assault on their productivity.

You see, all you have available to you in life is your time and your effort, collectively referred to as your productivity. You choose to invest your productivity in a certain way, then along comes the government who says that a certain amount of that productivity–quantified as income–belongs to them off the top. Then, they say another amount belongs to them if you take your quantified productivity and do anything with it–that is, spend it. Finally, the government says that they are going to spend the productivity they took from you on infrastructure, products, and services it is now going to force you to use–literally force you, as the government has engineered a near monopoly on the use of force–and they’re going to take even more of your productivity in the form of fees for the privilege.

As far as I can tell, this system of robbing people of their productivity means that people, in general, have become less productive. Why should anyone work hard and apply themselves if the government is just going to come along and take what you’ve done, especially since it takes more as you are more productive.

So, the reason that local, state, and federal governments are going broke, and are taking all the rest of us down with them, is that they have effectively capped the amount of productivity their citizens can produce even as they demand more of it to pay for their infrastructure, products, and services they are going to force you to use by taking even more of your productivity.

This is a self-defeating system and can only result in collapse. What’s ironic about this whole mess is that this is not the first time in the history of the world this very thing has happened, nor will it be the last. People think that letting the government force them to do something certain ways in return for giving up their productivity seems like an easier way, but it always fails. There is no such thing as something for nothing, and as the number of people to cease to be productive goes up, it’s not possible for those who try to continue to be productive to make up the difference. The system collapses into an tragic, entropic heap, usually a lot of people die, and those who worked the hardest–that is, those who were most productive–rebuild on the ruins.

The manifestation of this condition in 2011 is massive global budget shortfalls. The US federal government alone has spent $14 trillion more productivity units than it managed to collect since the end of World War II, or 280 million household-years worth of productivity. That means that, even at full employment (unemployment around 4 percent, or about 68 percent of the total population working), it would take all of the salary of all of the households two years to pay off the debt, and that would not provide a dime to the government to maintain anything.

So, what’s the solution? It’s easy: stop penalizing people for being productive. How do we do that and still keep all of our pet programs? In short, we can’t do that exactly. The pet programs will have to change, get cut back, go away altogether, but that reality cannot help but be offset by the benefit most people will gain from having access to more or most of their own productivity.

In real terms, this probably means some sort of flat or “fair” tax, probably in the form of a transaction (sales) tax on things regulated by the government. And, no, I do not believe such a scheme would penalize the poor more because, frankly, the poor would be less so as wages rose because businesses could grow because they would have more money being spent by people who have more of their productivity back.

Of course, these sorts of things rarely resolve themselves by way of reason, dedication, and hard work in any kind of mutually beneficial way. Again, history tells us, they usually resolve themselves by bloodshed and hardship, but there is always a first time for everything. What this first time would take is the people demanding their productivity back at the ballot box.

DLH

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