Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Source of Morality

And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion...reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

- George Washington, from his Farewell Address

We have said many times that morality, indeed any issues of right and wrong, must have a God of some sort behind them. Without an objective norm to fall back on, any and all questions of good and evil, even issues of simple prudence, are nothing more than your word against mine. In such a case, problems would be resolved only through might makes right, whether at the hand of a single tyrant or that old saw consensus, which is but a name for the tyranny of the majority. We must do right because it is right on its own terms as instituted by the Creator of the natural law.

Consensus cannot make something right. Consensus is merely what the majority of the people at a given time happen to want, which they are then able to subject upon the minority. Do we honestly believe that such is the best way to create good law and rational public policy?

Obviously it is not. We require a Supreme Being, a supreme and final Law, in order to do well and avoid evil. To those who object, which God?, we say, the one whom philosophy, not religion, insists is there. From that point we can safely speculate on how such a being would expect us to act. It is then when we start to cross into religious principle because at that point we begin to realize that people are special, that doing wrong against them is an evil in itself because it is an affront to their dignity as individuals. A dignity they have by virtue of their humanity, as given them by God. It does not come from them or anything they do.

So there is no reason to base morality and law on anything slippery such as convention, which can and will change as generations do. We need that eternal sense, that eternal reality, if we are to make a good society, and become good people. For any ideal of dignity must come from the religious ideal that everyone deserves proper respect. That cannot come from any simple human act. It can only come from above, overarching each individual. We recognize that and live accordingly, or we slowly perish.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

White House presses Ford to end Embarrassing Ads

Ford Motor Company, apparently under pressure from the White House, has pulled ads trumpeting the fact that it didn't take any of the bailout cash offered by the federal government a few years back. The idea of an American corporation sniping at intervention in the economy by the Washington SSR doesn't set well with the current ruling Politboro.

Never mind the pointing fingers which insist that, under different conditions Ford would have taken the money themselves. Never mind either that Ford supported the bailouts before Congress and did indeed take a line of credit from Obamacorp. The most important fact which can be gleaned from this situation is that the Obama Administration doesn't mind suppressing freedom of speech when it may affect their reelection chances in 2012.

While it would be hard to not call Ford somewhat hypocritical considering the background, there comes a point when the bottom line is what really matters. And the bottom line here is that Ford didn't lap up funds from the taxpayers' trough to the degree that GM and Chrysler did. But when it tries to make, ahem, capital of that fact, its rivals and their big government beneficiaries cry foul.

Is it more hypocritical to support something and then back off after better thought, or to claim that you are for the American people yet attempt to restrain their freedom of speech when you find it a political liability? Because like it or not, companies have rights too, including saying what they want so long as it isn't libel. In not taken federal funds to quite the same degree as its competitors, Ford is a better friend than they. Because, isn't it the American Way to make it yourself rather than cry about circumstance?

It seems the new American Way is socialism. At least, we hope only until January 2013.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Super Committee and Michigan

Three members of Congress from Michigan discussed the so-called Congressional super committee, formed towards finding comprehensive agreement on reducing the federal deficit, in Detroit yesterday before the Detroit Economic Club. All they really had to say was that the disagreed on the matters before the committee.

Representative Candace Miller, a Republican, and Representatives Sander Levin and Gary Peters admitted they liked one another personally but were sharply divided on where to cut spending and where to raise taxes. It is no surprise that the Republican wanted most of the savings to come from budget cuts while the Democratic duo would like to see a mix of added taxes with spending cuts.

Yet they didn't address what might be the most important part of the matter. Why are we having a super committee at all?

Isn't it the job of Congress to handle budget matters? Are we doing a smart thing by essentially funneling the job into the hands of a few people? Or are we merely laying the groundwork for something worse: an oligarchy which, in the long run, will be even father from the people than the local representatives they already have?

As likely as not, the point of this committee is probably to appear bipartisan while giving individual members of Congress a certain deniability. When forced to support things their constituents might not like, they can argue that they had little choice. They had to back the super committee.

This is not good. Not good for the people, not good for Detroit or Michigan, not good for the federal republic we have enjoyed for so long. It is creeping centralized tyranny of the type we objected to in 1776. It is sham democracy and ought to be done away with.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

GOP Stalwarts Square off in Mackinac

The 2012 Presidential Race has come to Michigan, at least on the Republican side. As there won't be a race on the Democratic side, we don't count that party yet.

This weekend is the time of the biennial Michigan Republican Leadership Conference on Mackinac Island. The featured players, at least among those of national note, are former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts (by way of Michigan) and current Governor Rick Perry of Texas. Well, we should add that they are the aspirants most likely to win the GOP nomination, according to the people who make the news.

We mean the media.

But we'll return to that point later. For this second, let us be content with the showing of the presumed front runners.

Romney said some neat things and is probably the prohibitive favorite to win Michigan's primary next February, as former Michigan Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land asserts. It is nice to be among people who 'know what Vernors is' said Romney himself, playing up his home state roots in a predictably hokey, meant to be homespun way. Governor Perry promised to make Washington 'inconsequential' in our lives as Michigan (add your favorite what do we call ourselves suffix) and draw as a hard a difference between himself and President Obama as he can.

Yadda, yadda, yadda. This doesn't mean that we don't like either candidate. It only means that we aren't hearing anything substantial. At this point in time, we could vote for either.

Which brings us to a point which involves both Romney and Perry in a somewhat more dramatic fashion. This may be nothing more than a hunch, an inspiration calling out from the back of our mind which has no significant grounding in reality, but are we the only ones who feel a kind of vibe akin to that of the Reagan/Bush race in 1980? Not that either man could really be a Reagan...but they each could certainly be a Bush, the kind of center right politician with exactly enough established Republican support to have wide appeal within the party and the general populace. Indeed, we will go so far as to say, strictly shooting from the lip, of course, that a Romney-Perry or Perry-Romney ticket might be in the cards in the long run.

Romney would have both midwestern and eastern connections while Perry could hail the south and west. It is something that might just work, especially as Obama policies continue to fail. We're not saying that it will happen. But if it does, you heard it here first. We think.

Going off on a tangent, we see that businessman Herman Cain has won the recent Florida straw poll by about 20% over the next contestant, Governor Perry. Yet as with Ron Paul's finish at second in a similar poll in Iowa a few weeks back, he doesn't seem to be generating much steam. He is pretty much being ignored by the popular media, who apparently believe that anything so modest as an early straw poll means little in a race which will more likely be decided by time and money and not the passion of an individual's supporters.

Let's be fair: such pervasive presumption is probably not out of line. Paul's supporters are significant and loyal but too few to land the GOP nomination. And with name recognition meaning so much it would seem that Cain is out on the proverbial limb. Still, for those who claim to report and not make the news, it is a glaring inconsistency of their journalistic ethic that they effectively ignore the showings of Cain and Paul. We must conclude that they want a 'mainstream' Republican vying for the White House and not someone with ideas beyond that.

Yet if that is not in some way making the news (by effectively attempting to direct people towards whom to support) then we don't know what is. In the meantime, the American voter sees their choice restricted.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Abortion: a Moral Evil

Pope Benedict XVI has said that human embryos are 'dynamic, autonomous individuals.' It is a good and clear statement of what seems a reasonable philosophic position: human beings have human babies.

It is high time that we state things clearly and emphatically where human life is at stake. We aren't talking about potential, we are talking about reality. The sooner we begin to emphasize that, the sooner we might begin to convince all but the hardest hearted that abortion is a great moral evil.

This is not a wholly, or even particularly, religious position, yet many will attempt to dismiss it as such. Concluding that, again, human beings have human children is no more inherently religious than asserting that rape, theft, or kidnapping is evil. Not that the religious aspect of this or any other moral question isn't important, but only that, when trying to convince someone not particularly or even openly hostile to religion that something is wrong we cannot use religion to defend it. We have to play the game on their field until such time as they come around to a more inclusive point of view.

Fortunately their field offers arguments not directly religious. We have defenses based on reason: if they are reasonable people, they will eventually begin to see these for themselves. If they are not reasonable people, well, they face a future of their making, either secular or religious, at their own peril.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Clark Durant's Bid for the Senate

Long time Republican activist and attorney from Grosse Pointe Farms, Clark Durant, will formally announce his candidacy for the US Senate this morning from a poor eastside Detroit neighborhood. He has already filed the paperwork for his run in the GOP Primary, having done so back in August 2011.

No one can doubt his credentials. He worked in the Reagan Administration and has been one of the movers and shakers in the Charter Schools arena in Michigan. He has worked hard for Cornerstone Schools in the Detroit area. He also has served on the Michigan Board of Education; indeed education seems his strongest calling card. His community service record is admirable.

But can he win the GOP Primary, let alone a statewide election? He has virtually no name recognition in outstate areas. He lost his bids for the GOP nomination for the Senate in 1990, losing in the primary as it were. This almost has the makings of someone who hasn't quite made it big in politics staging a final effort for such glory while there's still time.

That's not a bad thing, really, but time doesn't seem on Mr. Durant's side. Although he has some impressive supporters, among them Betsy DeVos, former Senator Spencer Abraham, and auto executive Bob Lutz, can that translate into victory when the GOP party mechanisms appear entrenched for Pete Hoekstra?

No one questions Durant's conservative credentials. It is even speculated that he should draw support from Tea Party types. Yet his race seems decidedly uphill. As always with elections, time will tell, and the final ballot is all that matters. We shall see.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Davis and Brewer

In recent hours we have seen two executions in the United States. One caused outrage both within the nation and the world. The other did not receive anything near the same same amount of, shall we say, notoriety.

Troy Davis was executed in Georgia despite proclamations on his innocence by himself and his supporters. Lawrence Russell Brewer was executed in Texas. Davis was accused of murdering an off duty police officer. Brewer was convicted of murdering a black man. The Davis case has people saying things such as the US system of justice is broken. No similar accusations about US justice seem to have appeared in Brewer's.

This is not to say that Davis may not have been innocent. That, whether we care to admit it or not, is more than we know, and it is fair to point out that twenty years of legal back and forth does seem plenty of time to secure his innocence. Say what you will, the general populace simply isn't necessarily privy to all the intimacies of such a case. Nor is it to support or deny the death penalty as a legitimate option when considering justice. But it is fascinating to note the differences in the approach to the respective cases here. With Davis, who, let's call it what it is, was wanted to be found innocent by the general public, there is hue and cry (which there should be, if he is truly innocent). With Brewer, there are details of the brutal murder he was convicted of committing right within the articles purporting to report only his execution.

The bottom line is that what we have here is a black man protesting innocence of a capital crime, and a white man convicted of killing a black man. In one case the death penalty is severely decried; in the other, not so much. It leaves us to wonder whether justice is really what the American public and the world wants, or if this merely illustrates an avant-garde, knee jerk reaction of a group of people whom it suits to have a cause celebre because it happens to fit their world view, their view of America.

The safest thing to do would be to get rid of capital punishment not because it is morally wrong but simply to prevent gross miscarriages of justice such as executing innocent men and women. We're just not convinced that that is the real purpose of all those who are against capital punishment. The contrasts between the Davis and Brewer cases seem to illustrate that point rather well.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bono and Transgender Questions

One of the contestants on this season's Dancing with the Starts is one Chaz Bono. He (and, quite frankly, we're only using the masculine reference here because we don't know what else to do; it is reflective of the confusion which must reign when society loses its moral compass) has been questioned on whether his appearance is appropriate on a family show. His response was that sure it was; it offered a teachable moment for families to discuss transgender issues with their kids, if they were willing to be open minded.

Setting aside for now the issue of whether DWTS is really all that much of a family show (the inclusion of Bono being itself evidence that the show's creators aren't truly all that interested in the best definition of family) we are left with one glaring question. It is the one question which shall not be asked, let alone answered honestly, by the folks who want transgender issues discussed.

Is Chaz Bono willing to be open minded about whether he may in fact be the one who is wrong?

At the end of the day, he's the one issuing the challenge. He's the one asking whether certain basic questions about the nature of male and female are wrong. He's the one going against the well established mores of most all cultures in world history. Why, then, are we the ones who require an open mind?

If he isn't willing to be as open minded about the question as he demands we become, then it is a shallow game he plays. For should that be the case, all we're really being asked to do is to accept a certain mode of thought merely because he wants it to be true. At one time, that would have been called self serving.

It is high time that decent and moral society take back the reigns. When people want us to change, we need to begin throwing the question back at them: why don't you change? When they can give us good answers to that, answers beyond, essentially, because that's not what we want to be true, then we can usefully discuss alterations to our basic societal codes. Until then, let traditional morals flourish. That's what keep our history going and our society strong.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Right to Work Good for Michigan

Michigan, a bastion of the labor movement since the explosion of the auto industry, seems on the verge of becoming a right to work state. That is, a state where employees would not be compelled to join a union in order to get or keep their job. The best which can be said about this is, it's about time.

How many forces out there believe that they are so good for the people that they must make the people support them? The Lord doesn't do that: even though a belief in God is of supreme importance to our well being, and He knows that, God doesn't make us go to Church. He knows that anything good must be freely chosen if it is to have any real value at all.

But, of course, men think like men and God thinks like God. So much so that when some men and women have power over other men and women, they like to, ahem, lord it over those beneath their heel.

Yes, we realize that unions need a great amount of support to survive. Yet that still begs the question at hand: if unions are so much for the individual, what does it say of them when they won't allow the individual to make his own choice about joining a union?

Big Labor is no worse, nor any better, than Big Business under such a scenario. Either one, when they have you under their thumb, can become unbearable. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. No matter who wields it. Michigan would be better off as a right to work state.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sane Drinking and Driving Laws

Great Britain has banned drinking games in bars. The State of Virginia and the City of Huntington Beach, California have done the same. Ontario, a Province in Canada, has put into law the rule that if your blood alcohol concentration is .05 to .08 (.08 being the legal limit for driving under the influence) you will still face serious consequences: you can be fined and your license suspended for three days.

There is no argument against drunk driving rules being strident. But it is left to wonder whether we are going too far: Ontario has said that if you plan on drinking, then don't plan on driving. It is fair to ask whether we may be infringing on individual rights too much in trying to discourage the consumption of alcohol. This is insulting, especially as there is no moral wrong involved in drinking alcoholic beverages.

Drinking games, to be sure, are at least borderline juvenile. Yet that does not seem reason enough to ban them. And while there must be clear legal guidelines as to what constitutes drunken driving, making it virtually a crime to drink then drive at all appears extreme. Individual responsibility is dying at the hands of the nanny state.

This is not to defend alcoholism or drunken behavior. By all means, throw the book at anyone driving dangerously impaired. But to essentially say than any ingestion of alcohol followed by driving is impaired driving strains credibility, and insults the individual. We need to take greater care when devising our laws. We need to remember that responsibility is ultimately in the person, not the state.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bold and Beatiful?

Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? That is a stance taken by most people when the subject of beauty comes up. Taken at face value, it is meant to say that we all have our quirks and foibles and as such our own opinions on the beautiful. That's fine, too, so far as it goes. Without a bit of individual interpretation an awful lot of very good things might go unrecognized.

Too often, though, it is not taken at face value. It is often intended as a way of dismissing any claim which propriety or objective analysis of art and objects may have against what makes something beautiful. On that level, it at the least makes art valueless. At the most, it is dangerous to our very psychological well being.

Why should there be no standards for beauty? Why should we not be able to know and employ them? We do and know and apply standards to so much else; why should the beautiful be any different? What can we really know about art and beauty if we have no way of judging them anyway? Indeed it can open us up to certain ironies, areas where what think awful may actually be lovely.

I remember a nun back when I was in Catholic schools who couldn't hold a musical note in a bucket: God love her, her voice was terrible. Yet when I hear it now, I realize that it in fact had a certain beauty in it which made it endearing. She belted out those hymns, by gosh, a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord, and it really was a joyful noise.

Aethetics, I believe Aristotle called it. A way to judge the beautiful from the horrendous. It is a subject on which I think we need to spend more time and effort.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Detroit's Negligence is Showing, Again

Chevrolet has made an offer to the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation to fix up the site of old Tiger Stadium for youth baseball. This is an offer which has come on top of many other offers to revitalize the historic site as a community center, possibly with retail and/or housing, while maintaining the integrity of the field itself. It comes after private groups such as the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy and groups of citizens have (on their own time with their own cash) worked regularly to keep the local field of dreams in decent shape. It comes after Michigan Senator Carl Levin had earmarked $3.8 million in federal funds to keep part of the old ballpark standing as a museum and community center. It comes while no developer has stepped up to turn the land into something else despite the City of Detroit's insistence that it is valuable commercial property.

Why does the City of Detroit continue to balk at what are clearly the wishes of the community and allow the site to reserved for what it had been for over one hundred years: a place to play baseball. Especially when you consider that so many of the offers which have come up do not rely on City money. Detroit has done squat for the site, yet private citizens routinely fix it up.

Of course, they're trespassers, as we pointed out several months ago. The City is worried about liability issues, since a public building used to stand on the property. Well, then, arrest them. Arrest those community members who dare act where their local government won't. Get them out of the way so that you can get one of the phantom property developers to take on the site and do something with it.

The fact is that Detroit doesn't want negative publicity. Indeed, Detroit doesn't seem to know what it wants at all. The City won't even take the lead from the people and let it become what they want of it. In that light, it's no wonder that outsiders scoff at Detroit's claims that it wants to better itself. It can't even come to terms with itself on such an obvious answer to the community will. The people want it, the people are keeping it up: let the people have it. What is actually happening here is along the lines of benign neglect, pure and simple.

Sometimes leadership means just getting out of the way. Stand aside, city hall, and let the people do what you will not: preserve a piece of history.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kilpatrick Fans Display Ignorance

Why is it that some people never learn? Or is it that we have framed the situation poorly? Perhaps some people simply do not want to learn.

Former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick met yesterday with members of the Citadel of Praise Church on Detroit's west side. The response he received was, on the surface, worthy of the prodigal son. He was cheered and praised at every turn. And all the while he showed no true remorse for what he has done to his family or to the City of Detroit.

He freely criticized his immediate successors as Mayor, calling one unready and the current Mayor Bing bored tired of the job. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy lacked intellect, according to the disgraced Kilpatrick. And on another note, he cried when his mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, lost her seat in Congress. No one in the audience asked whether they were alligator tears.

In short, he's playing his supporters in much the same way as he's tried to play everyone in Detroit. He's the victim, and they're lapping it all up.

Yet he vowed that he would never return to Detroit, because he would only be a political football. Still, last night might be the best exit he could hope to have. He scored a touchdown against a team playing no defense.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Certain Arrogance of Certain Voters

Even though it more or less is violating our word, we are going to revisit a subject. Sort of. You may recall that, a few weeks back, we raise the ire of residents of Grosse Pointe Woods and the Grosse Pointe Public Schools over the Schools of Choice question. There were some comments in response to that which we cannot get out of our minds; they demand a response. Not because of how exactly they relate to the issue at hand, but in how they can relate to almost all political questions. It provides, we believe, we hope, a teachable moment.

We will not name the authors of the comments, both out of courtesy and because it really doesn't matter who said them. The ideas hidden within the remarks are instructive enough themselves, as, again, they actually may be applied to many issues totally unrelated to the schools.

One person said: ...the taxpayers in the Grosse Pointe School District (which includes a portion of Harper Woods, as well as all 5 Grosse Pointe communities) have voted time and time again to pay additional taxes to fund our schools. All in all, the generous taxpayers in our district pay approximately $3,000.00 per student above and beyond what the State chips in. Said another: We also spend an additional $3,000 per student each year that comes directly from additional taxes homeowners here pay each year. We don't mind paying the extra taxes to fund our schools. Opined a third: the generosity of gp community members who passed local millages 25% of the district budget is from local funds.

Enough said; the point is pretty plain. It can be restated, essentially, with the old argument that certain areas willingly pay more in taxes for certain things.

But exactly how willingly? Surely none of the millage votes within the Grosse Pointes have been passed unanimously? What is really happening there, and what actually happens anywhere that any millages of any kind are being promoted, is that the majority of the voters who bothered to vote have decided to make everyone pay for what they want. There is, then, and without doubt, a significant number of taxpayers whose generosity is being forced by the hand government. Even local government.

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of phrases such as: We don't mind paying extra taxes for (insert own cause here). The plain fact is that that we is implied as all inclusive when anyone can see, with a moment's reflection, that it clearly isn't the case.

Except for the we who wanted the tax increase.

This is not to say that all millages are unworthy of support by a rational person. Indeed, the converse of what we say is also true: we cannot have a decent society run by the tyranny of the minority either. But merely because a majority, even a significant one, wants something, cannot mean that what they want is morally valid.

We believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said that all democracy ultimately means is that fifty percent of the people plus one can make everyone else do what they want. Regardless, it is a concept which needs to be much closer to the fronts of our minds.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 Made No Sense

Ten years have now passed since what may become the defining point of a generation. Ten years, almost to the minute as this is being written, terrorists attacked the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and were overcome by the passengers of an airplane over the hills of Pennsylvania. Ten years, and we still cannot make any sense of it.

The trouble is that there is no sense to be made. To be sure, we can understand the reasons for even such terrible actions, in the same way that we can understand the reasons Hitler did what he did. Yet that is not the same as understanding.

How do we, how can we, come to actually understand rape or murder or thievery, mass murder or any any other evil which may be added to such a gruesome list, if we are to be decent human beings ourselves? It is only in warped mind where such heinous acts may be justified. As such, reasonable people simply cannot understand them. It is beyond their ability; it is pure nonsense.

So the goal today should be to remember. Remember the victims and their families, remember the countless acts of heroism that day, remember even the perpetrators of such despicable carnage if for no other reason than to remind ourselves that such twisted souls do exist, seeking the ruin of those those not in lockstep with them. But hopefully, remember even so that their redemption may be possible. If we are the good people we claim to be, even that shouldn't be so difficult of a task on so difficult of an anniversary.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Federal Secretary of Education Comes to Detroit!

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is coming to Michigan! Right to Detroit, in fact. He will be accompanied by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing for that leg of the grand tour. It is all part of a forum, created to heighten the cabinet member's back-to-school bus tour which is coming your way across the whole of the Midwestern United States.

Well, whoop de freakin' doo. What is this supposed to prove to us? That Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, serving so obviously as a minion of President Barack Obama, if not something worse, such as a grandstanding public official stroking his own formidable ego, cares about education in Detroit, perhaps? Those loving liberals, they care about schoolchildren so much, they'll spend any amount of taxpayers' dollars to show it. We wonder, too, exactly how cowed has Governor Rick Snyder become that he has deigned to appear with him as part of this extravaganza of self serving public education excess? We can cut Detroit Mayor Dave Bing a bit of slack in this, considering his Democratic background. But a Republican Governor?

It all goes to show that they're all about government control and government power, even in areas where parents rights and local control ought to be sacrosanct. Because, after all, all those professional educators, all those government bureaucrats, they're for the children. Apparently more so than their parents are.

We cannot think of a greater example of hubris than in government concern for education. And in this we indict government concern at any and every level, but especially at a federal level. What can they really know of education, when such ideals are hidden deep within a trillion dollar budget?

They can know how to ride into Michigan wearing white hats atop white stallions. In reality, that's all we really need to know about such fatuous do-gooders.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Detroiters and Windsor

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the September 9, 2001 attacks on the United States we are seeing an increasing numbers of retrospectives on the actual event. We are also seeing a lot of analysis of the long term effect upon ourselves and Canada, our nearest neighbor.

Border delays, while they seem to be lessening on the whole, are being both praised and despised. Many criminals are being caught, thanks to an increase in border guards and an increase in the technology which allows for more criminal activity to be caught. Yet American travel to Canada has dropped, as it is becoming more difficult for Americans to get back into their own country from our neighbor to the north.

This should be expected when law abiding American citizens are treated as criminals when all they are trying to do is get back home after visiting friends or taking what ought to be a simple day excursion into Windsor. They should not be subjected to the insulting types of questions they are asked, such as, "When was the last time you were in prison?" If the record shows no evidence of that, then Homeland Security has no right to ask it. If it has the right at all; aren't American citizens entitled to be in America regardless?

Even question such as, "How much money do you have on you?", are inherently insulting. "None of your business", which is the best and correct answer to that, would only delay a US citizen's return all the more. Indeed, anything beyond 'How long were you in Canada?' or 'Do you have anything to declare?' are out of bounds, unless the border guard has good reason to believe otherwise that you aren't who you say you are.

We have said it before, yet it remains true: if we have to change the way we live because of the terrorist threat, then the terrorists have won anyway and 9/11 has simply made us into a boot camp. Until law abiding Detroiters can cross reasonably freely into Canada, then maybe it's time to stop the War on Terror, because we've clearly lost it.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In Sheep's Clothing?

Have you ever noticed that libertarian and liberal both begin with the same five letters? Is it a coincidence, or not?

This point is driven home by the recent announcement that two 'liberaltarians' are supposedly being forced out of the Cato Institute, a traditionally libertarian think tank. But it could be that the pair are simply moving up the ladder, one of whom is moving over to work with The Economist.

Yet the precise nature of the change isn't really important. The fact is that libertarians are a bit of a schizophrenic bunch: liberal on social issues while conservative on fiscal matters. It is fair to ask if you can have it both ways and maintain any philosophic consistency.

Can one really be fiscally responsible in public policy while essentially arguing that social responsibility is a different question? Why do we have the freedom to do almost anything we want personally (provided it does not violate that vague and rather self-serving platitude: so long as it doesn't harm anyone else) yet have no such similar freedom politically? Indeed, how can one reasonably argue that financial discipline and personal discipline do not go hand in hand? If you are no good at the one it is doubtful you can be particularly effective at the other.

In short, libertarians are essentially liberals who happen to like fiscal discipline. Yet such is like getting blood from the proverbial turnip. If folks are not personally disciplined they are not likely to be publicly disciplined. After all, we reap what we sow. Sow freedom, reap freedom, with all the errors that must grow from that field. But sow justice, the idea that some things are really right and others really wrong on their own merit, and we improve society by having bettered ourselves.