the whitestick papers

looking at politics from a different perspective

Archive for February 2010

Wrapped in golden chains

leave a comment »

If you’re old enough, the title of this article strikes a chord wherever it is that memories of the early 1970’s still live and triggers the sounds of Creedence Clearwater Revival (or, as we came to know them, CCR).  In his tribute to the generation’s coming out party, Woodstock, John Fogerty ‘s Who’ll Stop the Rain included a cryptic couplet that clearly refers to government, a popular target of the day.  The complete set of lyrics goes:

Five year plans and new deals, Wrapped in golden chains.
And I wonder, Still I wonder Who’ll stop the rain.

The references are pretty clear; “five year plans” were the hallmark of the Soviet Union under the domination of communism, and the New Deal was the chief feature of progressive US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s effort to combat the Great Depression.  But how are these tied together, much less “wrapped in golden chains”?

I don’t know whether or not Fogerty had it in mind, but there is a clear connection and significance, not only to the 1970’s but to today.

Beck in the 1920 and 1930’s, those Americans who championed the benefits of communist politics and socialist economics discovered they were a tough sell to the good citizens of the United States.  So, instead of using those terms, they hit upon the term “progressive” to describe their views; after all, in an era marked by two depressions separated by one of the greatest periods of growth in American history, who could possibly be against progress?

Later, in the 1950’s and 1960’s, that term wouldn’t have quite the positive spin it used to, so they started using the term “liberal” to describe how they wanted people to live.  Lately, that term has also started getting a bad taste to it, so they’ve gone back to “progressive”, but, no matter how it’s labeled, at its core the point of view is still socialist.

The bottom line of progressive thought is that the government – particularly with them in charge – knows what’s best for the people.  That’s the point of five-year plans; you can’t trust the people to know what’s best to produce or what crops to grow.  It needs the wisdom and oversight of the experts to make sure it gets done right.  The food shortages, long lines waiting to buy necessities and invariably poor quality machinery and other goods demonstrate just how well that worked out.

The New Deal was supposed to improve everyone’s lives, giving people jobs and hope again.   Truth be told, it did help the national infrastructure, but the Keynesian economic model it was based on assumed that work paid for by the US taxpayer was just as valuable as that provided by industry or agriculture.  As a result, men would dig holes in the morning that other men would fill in that afternoon.  Nothing was produced except a couple of paychecks, and that from the profitable efforts of other people.

The problem with government control, like five-year plans, or provision of jobs, like the New Deal, is that it comes at a cost.  Government, by its very nature, can’t produce anything.  It has to rely on its people to produce something so it can take part of it to do its job.  So, whenever it decides what its people can and can’t produce; when it spends more than it takes in; when it takes more and more in taxes, it takes liberty away from its citizens.  Sure, what they get may look good, and some people might even prefer the luxury of living in substandard conditions so they don’t have the responsibility to produce all that much, but even golden chains are still chains.

The problem is that progressive thinking has gotten into the water, so to speak, of government at all levels and with government officials of all types and political affiliation.  Any time an elected official tells you this program or that assistance for the poor, needy, hungry or whatever is a really good thing, they’re showing progressive colors.  That’s exactly the sort of often well-meaning but in the end self-serving destructive fad John Adams, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine and the like recognized as tyranny.

Is it any wonder Barack Hussein Obama and his cohorts in the US House and Senate believe they need to pass a healthcare package the majority of Americans believe is wrong?  They, after all, know better than we do what we need, and no one is going to stand in their way of giving it to us.

“See how the gold glitters so nicely?  Wouldn’t you like to wear these chains?”


Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

26 February 2010 at 5:07 pm

Posted in Basics

Tagged with , , , , ,

GOP: are we aiming at the right target?

leave a comment »

Let me ask you a question…

If every elected office in every city, county, state and the Federal Government was filled by a Democrat but the policies were in line with the limited government described by the nation’s Founders, will we have won or lost?  Putting it another way, if every office were held by a Republican but we had a socialist economy, will we have won or lost the battle for liberty?

Some folks are going to get the point right away; if we have liberty, it doesn’t matter which political party is in power.  Likewise, if we’re under oppression or tyranny, the party label is completely irrelevant.    But others – and this includes a lot of those in Republican Party leadership – are going to find it hard to grasp this concept.  For years, the stated goal of the GOP at all levels has been to “get Republicans elected.”  This is the wrong goal; it should be to promote policies that match the fundamental ideology of the Republican Party.

Sure, one of the best ways to get Republican ideals into political reality is to elect Republicans, but the difference involves what sort of Republican.  If we don’t ask our candidates the question, “how will you move the agenda forward?” we’re likely to continue to get what we’ve gotten – elected officials who follow the progressive path of Teddy Roosevelt and other Republicans, growing government at the expense of individual liberty.  Okay, so they don’t grow government at the same breakneck speed as, say, Barack Hussein Obama and the crowd currently in control, but both Presidents Bush did grow the government, and so have most elected Republicans since the early Twentieth Century.

Now, I’m a social and fiscal conservative; I believe government has a moral responsibility to protect its most vulnerable citizens and that certain lifestyles demean both the people who practice them and the society which allows it.  But, at this point in our nation’s history, I’m willing to ally with the growing libertarian populist movement because, until we get government under control, my social issues can never be corrected.   Our common cause must be liberty so we can discuss and deal with the results of “license” at a later date.

So, I support most Republicans but, more to the point, I work hard in the Primary season to make sure the Republican who is most likely to promote the cause of liberty gets the nomination.  As a party, we need to weed out those candidates who will talk the talk but don’t walk the walk; who support government spending on this program or that.  The country has been on a junk food diet and it will be hard to wean us off but, if we’re going to conserve what remains of our liberty,  most of us are going to have to stand up and say “enough is enough.”

And we’re going to have to vote for those who will move forward the cause of liberty, regardless of political party.  If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll keep getting what we’ve been getting.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

25 February 2010 at 12:23 pm

We must all hang together

leave a comment »

The famous quote by Ben Franklin, half of which forms the title for this blog, “We must all hang together or we will surely all hang separately,” was uttered during the meetings in 1776 that resulted in the Declaration of Independence.  Warning that anything but a unified front would result in disaster, Franklin’s words mean something now, as we stretch toward the Second American Revolution.  While we don’t face being hanged to death for treason if we lose, we do run the risk of being beaten if we don’t hang together.

There’s a rumbling among the Tea Party Patriots that, like was done in New York’s 23rd District US Congressional race, that a “progressive” (or what we used to call “country club”)  Republican candidate should be challenged by a true conservative.  Allow me to point out that, while it made a statement about the power of the Tea Party movement, the end result was that a socialist got elected.  My mom used to call that “cutting off your nose to spite your face” and really isn’t a good idea.  You still lose.

Now, don’t get me wrong; the folks in New York made a serious mistake when they ran a “progressive” or “moderate” candidate in this political climate.  Going “Democrat Light”, even in a fairly left of center district is just poor judgment in a political sense, and the sort of narrow focus those of us inside the GOP have been fighting for years.   We need to promote and defend our principles regardless of where we’re running; if we win elections but don’t move our agenda forward, we lose.  But that’s a blog for another day.

The point of this is that unity behind the best Constitutionalist contender, regardless of party, is the only way to stop the socialist juggernaut.  We can’t expect and won’t get uniformity; no human being is perfect, so there will never be a perfect candidate.    But we can unify behind the best candidate under the circumstances, and not get sidelined by a stand or three that doesn’t agree 100% with your point of view.

I know some people are going to rankle at this; there are those third parties whose principles largely match the GOP who are predicting the downfall of the Republican Party, but that’s not likely the case in the 2010 election cycle.   Third parties, at this moment, lack the infrastructure, the experience and the funding to mount a successful three-way race in nearly every case; the most likely outcome of such ideological hair-splitting and ego-stroking is the incumbent gets re-elected.  This was true in New York 23, and it was when Ross Perot tossed his 10-gallon hat into the Presidential ring.

I know the GOP has its problems – I’ve written about them in this blog.  But, to give the devil his due, there is an effort to bring in Tea Party folks to revitalize it, and the Primary battles in most states are looking to go to the more conservative or libertarian than to the “progressive” or “moderate”.  At this moment, the Republican Party isn’t following the example of the Whig Party, but is rediscovering its roots and real strengths.  Sure, there’s a lot of room for improvement, and a lot of the leadership is paying lip service to the Tea Party ideals, but bear in mind that there are elections slated for them in the next twelve months as well.   As the Tea Party invades the Republican Party, you’re going to see some real changes in how we approach politics.

Can you imagine the drive and passion of the Tea Party married to the political expertise and infrastructure of the GOP?  If we keep in mind the final goal of liberty and unify rather than divide the power of the people, the next political party to fade into the footnotes of American history may just be the Democrat.  Now, wouldn’t that be neat?

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

22 February 2010 at 12:32 pm

Posted in Basics

Tagged with , , ,

Sounding a common theme

leave a comment »

During the last election cycle, the Democrats had a common theme: they weren’t George W. Bush.  It seemed like every race at every level had, at it’s core, a message that the other guy in the race was somehow tainted by the evil that was President Bush.  They really didn’t have to promote or promise anything, and the country as a whole got exactly what they expected; a crop of legislators and other leaders who weren’t George W. Bush.

A large percentage of the voters have realized that what they are (socialists) is a lot more important than what they weren’t (George W. Bush), but that dawning revelation is beyond the scope of this article.  The thing I want to point out is the value of a bunch of candidates sounding a common theme.

This technique is best seen in things like the “Contract with America” which galvanized support behind several Representative races in the mid 1990’s.  It’s also at the core of the “Ten Promises” being proposed for the Senate races this cycle.  The “certified smart” folks tend to dismiss it but, if done correctly, it can work.  What happens is that multiple voices saying the same thing and reaching for a common goal energizes folks.  As Samuel Adams noted, “It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.”

This election cycle calls for the same sort of thing; a common theme into which many voices can provide harmonies so that the people of the United States know exactly where the incoming crop of candidates intend to take them.  The “Ten Promises” or something like it will work on the national scene and it’s my humble opinion it’s something every candidate for federal office should adopt.

There are elements of the national effort that will fly in state races as well, but each state is likely to have its own individual twist or focus.  Here in Oregon, for example, people are probably going to realize just what they did to themselves by passing Measures 66 and 67.  The biggest lie told was that it wouldn’t affect them and, by that time, they should have seen the effects in the form of higher prices, lost jobs and missing businesses.  So bringing a human face to the suffering and pointing the finger at the incumbent who supported the taxes should be effective.

But we also need to have a positive message, and we have an excellent one in the concept of funding core functions first.   I don’t know what it’s like in other states, but the Oregon Legislature likes to fund everything but schools and emergency services first so that, when the end of the session looms near, they have to “scrape” for the money to cover these services, which most people believe are what the state government should be doing.   Promising to pass legislation that will require state budget considerations start with these core functions and then look to fund other things afterwards is going to gain a lot of support from the voters of all political stripes.

Except, of course, for the public employee union leaders and their corrupt political officials who’ve developed this little scheme so they could coerce the citizens into letting them pull more and more cash out of their wallets.  But, despite their best efforts to grow government on the backs of those who produce something for a living, they’re still the minority.  It’s a case we can win with the people.

Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

16 February 2010 at 12:49 pm

Posted in Basics

Tagged with , ,

%d bloggers like this: