On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry said to the Virginia House of Burgesses, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!“
Now, two hundred and thirty-nine years later, that liberty has been vastly diminished. The minions of the Imperial Federal government pry into our financial affairs, they regulate every aspect of our businesses from start to finish; they interfere with us in our very homes. The Imperial City sits like a Colossus on the Potomac, having proven itself a dangerous servant and a dreadful master, far from the limited and transparent servant of the people our Founders envisioned.
Among those gathered to sign the Declaration of Independence were three ancestors of Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. Two are in my father’s lineage, Thomas McKean of Pennsylvania and Delaware and (tenuous connection) Abraham Clark of New Jersey. Mrs. Animal’s mother’s line can be traced back to Maryland’s Charles Carroll. Our ancestors fought to establish this country, but that gives us no special privilege or standing, merely a large dose of pride. America is still, for the most part, a land where we are judged by what we do, not by who our parents were.
What would the Founders think of what their brainchild has become?
Consider the words of another Founder, Samuel Adams: “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animated contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen!“
Still, I try to remain cautiously optimistic. While many in our nation freely accept the chains Mr. Adams warned us about, the chains of government dependency, the over-reaching Presidency of Barack Obama may have rekindled some small appreciation for liberty. The upcoming Millennial generation of which my younger children are a part show strong sympathies with libertarian principles. So perhaps it is not too late to bring the Imperial City to heel, to retake the rightful control of our affairs which Washington has usurped.
So today is a holiday for most Americans, and most of us (yr. obdt. and family included) will enjoy a day free from toil, a day to enjoy the company of family and friends. But we should remember that this is also a day in which a small band of rebels threw off the chains of the greatest empire in the world to bring into being the greatest nation in human history, a nation that for whatever faults it has remains the best and last hope for peace, freedom and civilization in the world.
In a 1961 speech Ronald Reagan said “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
We must guard our liberty with great and overwhelming jealousy. So much has already been chipped away, but if you look at the rest of the world – the Dark Ages mentality of much of the Middle East, the socialist morass of Europe, the fast-approaching demographic calamities of Russia, China and Japan – we’re still in pretty good shape.
The shining city on a hill has lost some of it’s luster. But we should not be ready to give up on America yet.
A good bit on higher education: Americans Think We Have the Best Colleges. We Don’t. Excerpt:
Americans have a split vision of education. Conventional wisdom has long held that our K-12 schools are mediocre or worse, while our colleges and universities are world class. While policy wonks hotly debate K-12 reform ideas like vouchers and the Common Core state standards, higher education is largely left to its own devices. Many families are worried about how to get into and pay for increasingly expensive colleges. But the stellar quality of those institutions is assumed.
Yet a recent multinational study of adult literacy and numeracy skills suggests that this view is wrong. America’s schools and colleges are actually far more alike than people believe — and not in a good way. The nation’s deep education problems, the data suggest, don’t magically disappear once students disappear behind ivy-covered walls.
For another take on this, read Stuart Schneiderman’s analysis here.
Both articles miss one of our major problems with our institutions of higher education, and that is the continued – nay, the increasing offering of crap degrees. The recent, unwashed, unfortunate “Occupy” movement was rife with examples of recipients of such degrees: Dupes who, having been awarded degrees in such areas as Women’s Studies or Underwater Dog Polishing, are now unable to find “suitable work,” and are protesting to have others (taxpayers, the productive, people who made better life decisions than they) pick up their tab.
With a crap degree one may expect to have a crap career. As stated a thousand or more time in these pages, it is not the legitimate role of government to protect people from the consequences of bad decisions.
With that said, it is bordering on fraud for universities – which are taxpayer-supported – to offer crap degrees. The several States should take steps to correct this.
Another day, another crisis – this one (again, still, take your pick) on our southern border. Some links:
And is this a coincidence? Poll Ranks Obama as Worst U.S. President Since WW2.
The situation at our southern border was bad up until recently, when it descended into a damned calamity. The President seems not only incapable but unwilling to do anything about it, and all Congress can talk about is “paths to citizenship.” How about securing the border?
Establishing and enforcing our borders is one of the few legitimate functions the Imperial Federal government is actually supposed to have. Why, then, is it this function they neglect while misappropriating so many others that they should be leaving to the several States?
It is a truism that one should never ascribe to intent what may be more likely ascribed to incompetence. In this as in many other things, the Obama Administration is not only incompetent but downright negligent. Nothing good will come of this catastrophe, for the immigrants or the American people.
Yesterday our old pal Rhino-san was still in town following our daughter’s Saturday wedding, so we took him on a tour of Denver. One of our stops was intended to appease my curiosity, that stop being at one of Denver’s new legal recreational marijuana shops.
I dislike forming opinions about things I haven’t seen for myself. As long-term readers of these pages and my old LiveJournal blog will know, I have long been an advocate of legalizing marijuana, not because I wish to use it (I don’t) but because I think it’s arguably silly to keep it illegal. Drying up the profit appeal for criminals is a good thing, too. But what I wanted to do yesterday was to see one recreational pot operation for myself, not because I wished to buy any (I don’t) but to satisfy my innate and often-overwhelming curiosity.
Obviously I took no photos, nor did I ask to take any, sensing that the shop employees would disapprove. So I’ll describe the experience instead.
First, the entry: There were two doors, barred by a young lady behind heavy glass. The inner door was a heavy steel fire door, locked; the young lady behind the glass required your identification for examination before unlocking the inner door (no one under 21 is allowed inside for any reason.) Our IDs were returned once we were inside.
The shop was clean, neat, well organized. The employees were polite, friendly and well-informed. There was a large, beefy but friendly young man seated on a chair in the corner of the small main room who had the distinct air of a bouncer.
As to the product: Having had some passing acquaintance with marijuana in my irresponsible youth, I thought I had some idea to expect. Not so! Samples of the various types of recreational weed were arranged on tables around the showroom, and we were encouraged to open the jars and smell the product. By odor alone I would have judged the product to be much, much stronger than the stuff I remember from the 1970s – and the young lady who we spoke with affirmed that weed has “come a long way since the Seventies.”
She was, incidentally, friendly, polite, and knowledgeable. I had announced on entry that neither myself, Mrs. Animal or Rhino-san had any intention to purchase but were simply curious, and there never was any objection or any lack of attention paid to us because of that.
So, impressions: If a state is going to legalize recreational pot, this one store at least presented a reasonable way to vendor the legal product. Security was tight, the employees were well-informed as to the possible pitfalls as well as the technical aspects of the weed.
I’m not sure what I was expecting from a legal weed shop, but what I saw wasn’t it – it was better. So for now, my curiosity is appeased. We may still debate the wisdom of Colorado’s legalized recreational pot, but the execution of the law – at least in this case – seems to be working.
Sorry, True Believers, but due to a wedding in the family Saturday and friends/family still in town today, there will be no comments, news or wit today. Enjoy the traditional Blue Monday totty, and return tomorrow as regular updates resume.
This is something that has been much on our minds of late. Read Mental Illness And Crime: What The Legacy Of Dorothea Dix Hath Wrought. Excerpt:
In the 1830s, jails were an all-purpose solution for a lot of issues. Inmates lived in squalor and people truly did not want to be there so there was a lot less crime. The downside was that nobody really cared about the people who did not belong there, like those with ‘retardation’ who had been abandoned, or people who were mentally ill but not criminals.
Dorothea Dix was the activist whose efforts led to the first generation of American mental asylums. At the age of 39, she happened to visit a local jail to do a Sunday school sermon for female inmates. She found that criminals, retarded people and the mentally ill all lived together in terrible, unheated conditions. When she asked why, she was told “the insane do not feel heat or cold”(Viney&Zorich, 1982). Not exactly evidence-based.
No, but here is something that is evidence-based: All of the high-profile multiple murders committed in this country in recent years have a common thread, that being under-treated or untreated mental illness. Adam Lanza should have been in an asylum; ditto for James Holmes. (Islamist murderers fall into another category and belong not in asylums, but in graves.)
Too many people are walking around that shouldn’t be. (Much of Congress and the Executive Branch may well belong in asylums, but that’s a discussion for another day.) Upon a time these people would have been locked up – perhaps cruelly and in lousy conditions, but locked up.
Surely we can do better now?
Why do we not have a new breed of mental institution, where the conditions are humane, where the treatable can be treated and the untreatable maintained away from peaceable society?
The Science 2.0 article linked here concludes:
We have so many more mental patients in jails not because we have returned to the America of the 1830s, where the mentally ill are just thrown in jail so we don’t have to think about them, but because mental illness has been turned into a scientifically subjective loophole and therefore part of a cultural agenda.
The author is missing a cogent point. We have more mental patients in jail because we do not attempt to remove potentially harmful people from society until they have already committed a crime. Adam Lanza was known to be potentially dangerous. So was James Holmes. Why were they running around loose?
I make my living in large part by teaching high-tech companies how to do root cause analysis. One of the ways you find a root cause is to look for commonalities in the circumstances of repeated events. As noted, the common thread in the high-profile multiple murders we have seen lately is untreated or undertreated mental illness.
Until we address that, nothing else we as a society do will prevent another Adam Lanza or James Holmes from running amok.
The results of our Colorado primary elections are in. Here in District 6 all of the Republican candidates for various offices were running unopposed, but the Governor’s primary was contested. Former Congressman and former gubernatorial candidate (he lost to Bob Ritter in 2006) Bob Beauprez has emerged the winner. Read details here and here.
What’s interesting about this whole contest is that the state GOP seems to be abandoning the circular firing squad they have been in for about the last ten years. The Denver Post article (first link above) quotes one Beauprez’s primary opponents, the often-contentious Tom Tancredo, as saying to Beauprez on the evening of the election “I’m going to do everything I can for you, buddy, even if that means I don’t come around.”
Having met Tom on several occasions and having had the chance to speak with him at some length at least twice, I will say this: Tom is an idea man, a great guy, a likeable fellow for the most part, but probably would not have been the best candidate to face the popular Governor John Hickenlooper. Bob Beauprez will more easily appeal to a wide swath of voters in increasingly purple Colorado – and a key issue will be last year’s gun control laws, which are proving startlingly unpopular.
Still, the GOP has a long ways to go if they are to pick up the CO Governor’s mansion, and that way will be mostly uphill. Bob may be the best candidate available – but John Hickenlooper is certainly the best Colorado Democrats have, too.
It’s going to be an interesting race.