Archive for December, 2007

Should Conservatives Boycott Big Businesses?

Posted in Constitution, Economy, healthcare, politics with tags , , , , on December 29, 2007 by Randy Streu

Like the Democrats, the Republicans have seen their share of special interest groups hijacking the party. 

Most notably recently, we have the SoCons.  Now, I’m not referring here to Republicans who happen to be socially conservative.  In a very real sense, strong moral beliefs have always been part of the Republican Party.  The people to whom I am referring are those who put particular social issues above every other issue in the race — to the extent of sacrificing those issues in order to get exactly what they believe they want on the issues.  So long as a man promises to try to federally outlaw gay marriage and abortion, their candidate of choice could be as fiscally conservative as Hillary Clinton or John Edwards and still get the vote.  Hence, the Mike Huckabee surge.

However, even longer ago than the social conservatives came the corporate hijacking.  For some reason, rather than the party of liberty, lower taxes and smaller government, for many Republicans in government we’ve become the party of Corporate welfare.  We’ve gone from getting government off our backs to allowing ourselves to be run by big business. 

Great.  I’m starting to sound like Ron Paul.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I have no problems whatsoever with big business.  I’m all for it.  But there’s a big difference between free-market conservatism and corporate pandering.  Corporations, combined with big government, have all but crippled the options for the average citizen. 

People are flocking to the liberal socialists’ “universal healthcare” in droves because our choices for health insurance are so limited.  And, often being the only game in town, health insurance providers often have little or no incentive to treat customers with dignity or respect.  There’s one situation, which I’ll be discussing more about in the future (much more) in which a woman who paid her premiums on time and was hit by a truck was sued by her insurance company because she won a suit against the trucking company responsible for the accident.  Legal?  Okay.  Moral and ethical?  Just try and convince me.  And often, given the very limited options in healthcare, we feel like we don’t have an option.

But we do.

Far too many people are beginning to rely on government to keep big business in check.  They don’t like particular ads, or particular business practices, or particular prices — so they want the government to pass more legislation and regulation.  Much of what we see in the regulation category, by the way, is often unconstitionally legislated by non-elected government workers.  Lazy “activism” by people who want to have their cake and eat it too.

The fact is, built within the free market system, is the single most democratic and valuable tool in this whole fight:  the dollar.  We, the people choose when, why and how to spend it.  We the people get to choose where our money goes.  If not directly, as in the case of insurance companies (often) then at least indirectly by going after the companies who force their employees into substandard insurance plans. 

We, the people, have the right, authority and power to change business practices, to enforce a code of ethics and morality within the health and other industries.  We are able to drive down prices on needed goods — and even so-called luxury items.  All without a single government beaurocrat.

Not only is a boycott a good way to enact change, it is the most conservative means of affecting change in business.  It is allowing the market to work.  It is giving both consumers and businesses a choice: I choose to spend my money elsewhere until company A chooses to give in to my demands.

Now, as a fair warning, I’m not typing this in a vacuum.  I believe we have an opportunity, which I will be disclosing further within the next couple of days, to affect change in at least one big business in regard to healthcare.  Why is this important?  Well, for starters, because of simple morality and compassion.  From a political level, though, it’s because now, more than ever, it has become vital to prove the market system can and does work when it comes to healthcare. 

 And you and I can prove it.  No politicians.  No new legislation.  Just by witholding our dollars.  Just with a simple boycott.

Stay tuned.

-Streu-

Fill the Red Truck

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2007 by Randy Streu

As you may recall, a couple days ago, I mentioned Fred’s virtual Red Truck.  Pro-Fred(!) bloggers are trying to get his tank filled so he can run his new ad in Iowa.  Fred supporters, click here to contribute.

Two Squirrels: An Essay on Economics and Fairness

Posted in Economy, politics, taxes with tags , , on December 28, 2007 by Randy Streu

(Originally posted at r2’s myspace on Oct. 8, 2007)

Today I saw a squirrel feeding from my neighbor’s bird feeder.  As I watched, a second squirrel — bored, evidently, of watching the cars from the sidewalk — approached the bird feeder as well, from below.  The first squirrel, having climed up the post, was busily gathering food from inside the feeder, while clinging on the mesh surrounding it.  The second squirrel, seeing an opportunity to gather its own food as the first dropped seeds here and there, began gathering from the ground whatever the first squirrel dropped. 

Having direct access to the source of the seed, the first squirrel was able to have what it needed to eat, as well as gather extra for the upcoming winter.  The second squirrel, though it had access to less of the seed, also took what it needed from what was available. 

Before I begin to draw parallels, allow me to shift settings, so that my intention is not misunderstood.  Suppose these same two squirrels were engaged in eating, not from a bird feeder, but from a tree.  The first squirrel, having made the climb up the tree, would have access to as much food as it needed or wanted, while the second squirrel, chosing to remain on the ground, would have access only to what the first dropped. 

Now, perhaps some of my more liberal friends may suggest that somebody ought to excert some force of will over this first squirrel and make it drop an equal amount to what it took.  After all, why should the first squirrel have more than the second?  It isn’t fair.

But wait:  wasn’t it this first squirrel that noticed the tree, or the seed?  Wasn’t it this first squirrel that undertook to gather food from this source, excerting the effort necessary to climb, and to gather?  This second squirrel wasn’t inconvenienced — indeed, had the first squirrel not acted, the second squirrel would not have had the easy access to food that it ended up having.  It may have had to find food and climb itself, or else find another proactive squirrel from whom to gather the leftovers. 

By the laws of nature itself, then, it is this first squirrel, and not the second, that is entitled to the fruits of its labor.  The second squirrel has undertaken work, to be sure.  But it is a lesser work than that of the first, and it is in fact made possible by the work of the first.

Because posting blogs doesn’t pay very well, I have a job.  My job is as a radio DJ for a small country station in Northern New York.  This job also doesn’t pay well (though it pays a great deal more than posting blogs does), but it does pay.  I work under the assumption that the people in positions above my own make more money than I do, and that the owner or owners of this particular radio station probably make a great deal more money than I do.

Some of my more liberal friends (and a great many would-be union organizers) would suggest that I ought to be somehow outraged by what may well be a vast disparity between my paycheck and my employer’s earnings.  But I’m not.

I undertook no risk in the formation of the radio station for which I work.  I did no work in its creation; did nothing to earn the startup money.  I didn’t work with the FCC in getting an operation license.  I didn’t set out and hire the company’s first employees.  I just walked in one day, many years after the station was created, and was hired to do a specific job for a specific wage.  In working out a cost-benefit for myself — what the job would entail, versus what they would pay me to do it — I decided that the job would be beneficial to myself and to my family.  The cost or the benefit to my employer didn’t, and doesn’t, figure into this analysis.  And why should it?  Upon deciding how much my time and effort are worth to me, and after stipulating that I would be compensated for such in an agreed-upon manner, to what end would I try to discern my employer’s benefits?

Instead, in performing the cost-benefit analysis, I decided that, rather than find my own tree to climb, and rather than climbing that tree, I would instead gather the benefits offered by those who did climb.  And if the cost-benefit ratio ever shifts, I can always find a new tree. 

Now, the squirrel analogy, like all analogies, is imperfect.  The reality is that the employee-employer relationship is one of symbiosis.  I get the benefits of pay, etc., offered by my employer, and in return, he gets my time and experience, which helps him make money.  Which, I should add, in turn increases his continued ability and willingness to pay me. 

I am not angry that my employer makes more money than I do; why should I be?  It was, after all, his risk, and his time and money, which made it possible for me to work and get paid to do so.  It is a mutually beneficial arrangement, from which his the greater benefit, only because his was the greater risk and investment.  To suggest that he owes me more than I agreed to work for is a breach of verbal agreement, and dishonerable. 

This is what the New Left cannot seem to grasp.  Employers risk time and money — investing in their own futures.  Often, these investments require further investments in individuals — employees — to continue to make the risk pay off.  It is the entrepreneur, and not his employee, that has the most to lose in this relationship — and therefore should have the most to gain. 

I suppose I could find my own tree.  And perhaps someday I will.  And how I choose to divide the food I find will be up to me.  Hopefully.

-Streu-

I think I scared the Clinton people…

Posted in Economy, Elections, Hillary, News, politics, taxes with tags , , , on December 27, 2007 by Randy Streu

As you may recall, Hillary Clinton recently inroduced (at the behest of John Edwards, though she won’t admit it) a minimum wage increase to $9.50/hour.

I won’t rehash my arguments against this idea.  Those may be found here and here.  But, as an update:  Several days ago, I posted a couple of these concerns over at Hillary’s blog page regarding this topic — or, rather, attempted to post these concerns.  Though, as usual, I’m always sure my posts are within protocol (friendly tone, not insulting or demeaning), for some reason this particular post was never accepted. 

I think I know why.  When you look at the posts that did make the page, you see that the Clinton Koolaid drinkers are simply incapable of dealing with actual information — and the Clinton camp is clearly afraid that such criticism may lead to confusion among the ranks.  That’s my take, anyway.  But then, I’ve been told I think far too highly of myself.

Maybe Hillary just doesn’t like being told she’s wrong.

The Red Truck Returns

Posted in Elections, Fred(!), politics with tags , , , on December 27, 2007 by Randy Streu

It’s official.  Fred(!) Thompson is bringing back the Red Truck (albeit virtually). 

Knowing the Fred Thompson we’ve seen in the past couple weeks, I can’t help but wonder if this is a semi-subtle snark at the press.  It’s almost as if he’s saying, “Hey, remember when you guys counted me out back in ’94, and then this truck and I made you look like idiots?  Bet that stung.”

Actually, if he’s not saying it, can I?

What it should do, however, is remind Thompson’s supporters about the past.  Though we’re nervous about polls, Fred’s been here before.  And then he won over 60% of the vote.  The press has developed a habit of being wrong about Thompson.  With the help of his supporters, they will be this time, too.

If you haven’t done it, head over to fred08.com and make a donation today.

-Streu-

Merry Christmas to All

Posted in Uncategorized on December 25, 2007 by Randy Streu

To all who just happen to stop by, Merry Christmas from myself, and from the Society for Independent Thinking.  Because it says it so much better than I ever could, here also is a Christmas card of sorts from Fred(!):

What’s all this stuff about fire?

Posted in Elections, Fred(!), general, politics with tags , , , , on December 24, 2007 by Randy Streu

It’s difficult for a logical, critically-thinking person such as myself not to get annoyed when I hear the same tired, old criticisms of my Presidential candidate-of-choice passing out of the mainstream media and through the lips of people who used to consider that same media an enemy to convert — and not a source to parrot.  The main, ironically, is the long-since-disproven “lazy” charge — and its corrolary (and my pick for dumbest (sub)standardized and parrotted statement), “no fire in the belly.” 

I find the lazy charge ironic, because it is generally the thing that issues from the lips of those who, rather than look at what Thompson has been doing during this campaign (for example, as I mentioned before, writing policy rather than kissing babies, his current “flat-out” schedule in Iowa, etc.), have instead simply trotted out the old criticisms from other people.  And who’s the lazy one here?

But the one that really bugs me, especially from people who claim to be Republicans (a prerequisite for which is the belief that government is the problem — rarely the solution) is this idea that Fred Thompson doesn’t “want it” badly enough.  Never mind the fact that you’re pretty much going after a self-described “low-key” guy basically for not having his own Howard Dean moment (‘cuz that worked out).  Frankly, I remember with fondness the good old days in which lust for power was considered a bad thing among potential leaders.  It used to be that those of us who wanted the government to leave us the heck alone actually preferred leaders who were somewhat reluctant to accept the mantle — and then only because we told them they were needed.  It used to be that such a thing was considered nobility (actual nobility — the content of character, rather than the pedigree of blood).

But, in these days of the obsessively power-hungry Hillary Clinton, it seems we believe we can’t beat such blatant lust for power without someone willing to match it.  But I disagree.  I believe that, as the curtain draws tighter and tighter, those who lust for power begin to show their true colors.  People like Senator Clinton actually believe that we, the American people, owe this to her — and her frustration continues to become more apparant.  Contrast that, then, to a candidate who was drafted into race, and is running it because he believes in the values for which he stands — truly and earnestly.  A candidate whose motivation stems from limiting — not increasing — the power vested in the federal government.

I am voting for Fred Thompson precisely because he refuses to fit a mold — because he refuses to remake himself to suite somebody’s idea of what a candidate “should be.”  I’m voting for Thompson because the Fred(!) on the campaign trail today is the same guy who’ll be in the White House next January.  He represents my views on the stump, and I know without reservation that he’ll represent those views as President — because he has the record to prove it. 

I’m voting for Thompson because he doesn’t want power — he wants instead to put it back where it belongs: with the people.

-Streu-