Monday, August 18, 2014

Anchoring and Liberty

Deb thinks I should put a warning label on this one, so ... if your skin is particularly thin this morning you might want to come back later.

Rumor has it that the State of Florida, listening to the demands of McMansion owners, is contemplating a ban on all overnight anchoring of all boats in all of its waters. There is no telling if such a ban will ever make it into law and, if so, when. There is also no telling if any such law will survive the inevitable legal challenges. In any case, as a member of the cruising community at which the law is specifically aimed, a few thoughts come to mind.

We are in Florida at the moment. Have been for a few months actually. Most of our time here has been spent on a dock or a mooring ball. Both cost a lot of money for a modest return. Dinner Key is our favorite place to stay in Fl, and the customer service is excellent. But we pay for a mooring that is completely exposed to Biscayne Bay. There are days, weeks, where being there is barely tenable. Even when the Bay itself is not beating up the place, the wakes from power boaters blasting full song down the channel only to chop the throttles right at the "NO WAKE" sign, will send the unprepared in the mooring field flying. It is a long ride to the dingy dock. The bathrooms are modest and there is no real lounge where one might sit and get some work done on the internet.

Currently we are on a dock, a hideously expensive dock where customer service ranges from spotty to downright surly. The office is usually unattended, internet access is horrible, and we are constantly at risk from the antics of power boaters using the launch ramps. Again there is no real lounge, just a few chairs and a card table scattered around the laundry room.

Anchoring off is the free market alternative to putting up with these bandits. Isn't Florida one of those Big Red states where such ideas are worshiped? In fact, isn't this whole place supposed to be one of those "god wants us to keep Big Brother Government off our backs" places? Demanding that government keep free-spirited cruisers from dropping a hook in public waters to avoid being raped by a scruples-lacking money grubber, isn't that an affront to the Big Red God?  Some of the disciples were fishermen. Surely they anchored out once in a while to avoid paying some lowlife carpetbagger for access to a dock that was falling apart and lacked any place to park their asses.

The hypocrisy seems blatant, though one of the realizations that have come with more than a handful of decades of life, is that hypocrites are blind to their own hypocrisy. Somehow having my modest (though pretty – if I do say so myself) sailboat in their view of the water is an assault to their freedom even though, when I leave, the water will be undisturbed. But me having their hideous cubes of wretched excess and monuments to egomania blocking my view of the shoreline, marred by their assault on the land and the environment, is perfectly okay. My home they want banned, though no cruiser is making a similar demand about their homes.

Their home vs mine suggests that cruisers, in nothing but the most general of terms, are far better human beings than are those complaining about us. If it comes to standing before the Big Red God, I'll state my case and take my chances on having lived my life as I have, as opposed to how they have lived theirs.

Of course the hypocrisy goes much deeper. The "small government, personal liberty" claim is nothing but an empty slogan. Those who mouth it are in the service of big money. Small government can't stop big money from doing whatever it wants to get bigger, and that includes stomping on any civil right that impinges on the bottom line or, in this case, perceived property value. Personal liberty isn't even a consideration. But here is the thing ...

Liberty is not the right to self-absorbed narcissism. Liberty is the chance to live in a society where the value and aspirations of each individual are cherished and supported by every other member of that community. Liberty is found where universal civil rights are protected by the full weight of a first world society. Liberty is every individual being rewarded for his or her contribution to a better life for themselves and others, where no one gets rich off the labor of another. Liberty exists where no one is allowed to coerce another in any way for any thing, and is only found where the full resources of a society are focused on protecting me from you, and you from me.

Liberty is not an individual thing. It is a gift offered to each individual of an enlightened and powerful community.

Liberty is too difficult, too complicated, and too fragile an accomplishment for any single person to manage alone. Liberty is the reward for a community working together to build a better life for themselves, their kids, and their grand kids.

Americans have come to hate anything that even hints at a community.  Our political system has devolved into an endless, 3-way battle between the party of "All I care about is getting mine" vs the party of "All I care about is getting yours" vs the party of "All I care about is getting everybody's". America's budget is based on the belief that it will be at war with nearly everyone, nearly all the time. Working with anyone to accomplish anything that benefits a larger community is demonized as socialism.  We can't even build roads anymore, or fix bridges.

Which is why liberty is being lost in the United States of America.

The proposed anchoring law in Florida is as good an example as any.

NOTE:  My friend Robert has issues with this post.  They are based on a much deeper understanding of Florida politics than is mine and, perhaps, a fundamentally different world view.  If he gives me permission I will cut and paste his comments here.  Until then please go to the comments section and read what he has to say.  It will a be good use of a few minutes of your  day!

25 comments:

Steve said...

Hopefully the threat is empty, Tim, and will blow over. The world is full of imperfect people who have a free will. As for God, He is neither sovereign in our affairs, Republican, or dead, but is available to work with each of us on a personal basis (or not). Best wishes.

TJ said...

That is an interesting description of god. Someday, when we cross paths again, I'd be interested in having you expand on it.

Robert Sapp said...

TJ, I think you should have put this one on the back burner for a few more days before pulling the trigger. First, rumors about bans on anchoring in Florida waters pop up from time to time, but it never goes anywhere. Organizations like BoatUS step up to champion the rights of boaters and protect their access to state waters - a private organization working for the collective good of its members.

Second, your references to Big Red God are quite frankly offensive. Florida is not, contrary to what you may believe, a "red" state. It is purple, which means it is pretty evenly balanced between red and blue. That's why they call it a swing state - it swings back and forth. The part of Florida where Rhonda and I live, the NW Florida panhandle, is solidly conservative, or what you would call red. People here go to church, turn out for veteran's parades, lead scout troops, fish, sail, barbeque. There is no push in this part of the state for bans on anchoring. None whatsoever. Sail on over this way and you can drop your hook wherever you care to, and no one will complain, unless you do something to deserve being complained about. We’re very much a live and let live community, and we enjoy quirky and colorful characters of all kind. I think you’ll find the entire Gulf coast, from here all the way to the Keys, is pretty much like that.

The part of the state where you are currently located, however, is solidly, irredeemably blue, similar to most large urban areas. So those mansions you refer to? The ones whose owners don’t want to have to look at your anchored boat? Those aren’t owned by people who own the local tire store, Ford dealership, or McDonald’s franchise, the ones who probably vote for the Republican candidate each November. They’re much more likely owned by trial lawyers or people from the NY financial industry. People who are extractors rather than producers, who donate heavily to Democratic candidates and expect government to do their bidding.

So in my opinion, your rant is based on a false premise. You seem to think that because liberal moneyed interests want to ban anchoring, it is somehow a plot by conservatives to deprive you of your rights. I just don’t see how you can make that kind of leap unless your perceptions are deeply skewed by your own preconceived notions.

In any event, may I suggest that if you and Deb have been living aboard long enough to realize that you may not in fact be voyagers, but rather just prefer staying put, then you should consider moving Kintala around to Florida’s Gulf coast. You’ll find that while it may be much “redder” than the Miami area, you’ll have better, less expensive accommodations, nicer people, and will be pretty much left alone if that’s your desire. If you dropped the hook somewhere in the Naples area, it would be an easy 90 minutes on I-75 over to the Miami area to visit the grandkids. The only reason I could see staying in the Miami area is as a jumping off point to the islands.

Cheers

TJ said...

Robert, you make some very good points and I thank you for them. Sparking thoughts and conversations is part of why I blog. Too few of us think about things, come to some conclusion, and then listen to those who have come to other conclusions. In that spirit ...
I am not a believer, so anytime I get near the subject of god it is likely someone will be offended. Not my intent, just a kind of natural conflict. That being said, the Big Red Party's habit of loudly claiming that god is on their side and that their policy decisions are in keeping with his demands cannot be argued. I hope the day never comes when I stop poking fun at such hubris.
From my point of view virtually all politics in America is lined up behind the idea that the business of America is business. A claim, quite frankly, that I find offensive. Democrats, Republicans, T-party, America's versions of religion, local governments, police actions (which almost always protect property at the expense of harming protesters) ... the business of business is not universally good for the business of people. I will grant you the point (which was very well made) that liberal rich people are often just politically correct conservative rich people in drag. To be as honest as I can, in no way do I think of myself as an American liberal any more than as an American conservative. I think both are contrived positions used to keep people's focus away from how badly things are deteriorating for the majority of us.
Just this morning Deb and I were talking about how long we have been on this dock and in this same state, and how much we don't care for living this way. We would much rather be voyagers. Maybe not long distance voyagers, but 100 miles is a long way in a sailboat. However, we have faced other responsibilities that outweighed our desire to move on. Also, since this is our first year out, we are a bit shy of the hurricane thing. So being in this hurricane hole, which is also serving to keep our insurance company happy, seems the lesser of two evils.
We have heard nothing but good things about the Gulf Coast and fully intend to explore that part of the world someday.
Thanks again for your comments. If it is okay with you, I'd like to cut and paste them to the bottom of my post; I think anyone who reads what I said should also read what you said.
TJ

Robert Sapp said...

I have no problem with you reposting my comments, but I don't think it's necessary. It looks like blogger shows the entire comment thread.

I'd say something about how you should make sure and stop in Pensacola if you ever get over on this side of Florida, but the truth is I really hope that by this time next year we'll be somewhere south of somewhere instead of here.

TJ said...

"Somewhere south of somewhere instead of here" sounds exactly like somewhere we hope to be as well!

Alex Rooker said...

Southwinds Magazine follows the anchoring debate quite often. My understanding is that there is a law on the books which prevents cities from totally controlling anchoring.

If there is a new issue, can someone point to a specific article, or legislative link?

Brad Beaird said...

Great post and comments.

S/V Via Bella said...

The Waterway Guide sent out a news update on this issue two days ago. It can be seen at:
http://www.waterwayguide.com/waterway-updates/news/GEN/4185/ALERT-Florida-anchoring-regulations-meetings-announced
I hope that link is active when it appears in the comments. Tim, I appreciate your strong feelings about this. I don't know if this legislation is motivated by landowners or by a desire to turn free anchoring into marina and mooring fees. Either way, if it passes as written it will hurt cruisers. Thanks for writing about it. We may some day get down to Florida again and would like to anchor out if we choose to.

Deb said...

@Alex - the link that Via Bella posted is the link from which we got our information.

PeeDee said...

I believe that each of the extremes of the political spectrum are (and possibly have been since the beginning of the country) trying to convince the public we are in a uniquely desperate situation as a result of the misdeeds of the other extreme. I'm not buying it. Surely, there are problems. And there are (and always have been) people who are suffering, right in our midst, as a result of massive political intransigence born largely of hubris, but sometimes, more dangerously, of forethought. If we, the voting public, let each extreme turn elections into polarized, one issue affairs, we are not going to get far. My hope is that we will look at candidates for political office at least in part for what they can accomplish by, and here is the dirty political truth, compromise. Because no matter how right I think I am, there are about 150 million Americans that feel quite the opposite. I think it is worth going to the mat for civil liberties issues, but for many hot-button issues? I can compromise on those and I think we all need to admit that unless we do, we are not going anywhere. To use an analogy, we stand to lose the war as a result of our inability to see past a single battle. And it is not because I don't have a strong opinion on the subject. It is because I understand it is a big country and some of my neighbors who would drop everything to help me in a crisis feel the opposite and they are not idiots for believing as they do. I agree that people are being very short-sighted when they "outlaw" previously allowed privileges. It makes us a smaller people as a whole to insert restrictions on behaviors that are minor inconvenience to us. I don't agree with anyone who asserts this is a Red or Blue thing. It is a matter of "I've got mine and I'm closing the door on anyone else to keep the party like I want it." To quote a 70's pop song, "Signs, signs, everywhere a sign..." I think it is a hypocrisy that is in most of us to some degree and it is the rare person who recognizes it in themselves. Sorry for the long, non-sailing, post, but I am a long way from the water today. Perhaps one day soon... Sail on, my friends.

TJ said...

Pee Dee, no apology needed, I appreciate your comments. But I wonder, compromise with whom, and to what purpose?

How do fundamentalists of any religion compromise their faith? We are more than 200 years into the industrial revolution. There are 7 Billion people on the planet. Yet the Pope is still opposed to any form of birth control. Religion rules at least one of our political parties, two if you count the conservatives and the "real" conservatives as different parties. (Which I do.) How are you going to compromise with them over women's rights?

It is more than 400 years since Galileo looked up and discovered Jupiter's moons. We still vote people into the Congress and the Senate who think the world is less than 10,000 years old and that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to work. They "don't believe" in evolution, which is the intellectual equivalent of not believing that the earth is round and revolves around the sun. Are you going to compromise with them over what should be taught in science class?

All political parties in the US are enthralled with Wall Street, crony capitalism, and war. What compromise will matter when it comes to reigning in the abuse of banks, the stagnation of wages, or the flow of the nation"s wealth from those who actually create it to those whose only claim to wealth is being born to the right parents? Even the Democrats decry the "death tax". Which, by the way , isn't a tax on the dead. (One of the world's stupidest claims.) It is a tax on people inheriting wealth that they did nothing to earn. What compromise is there to make when EVERYONE in the Congress and the Senate is a multi-millionaire?

When every Representative in congress has thousands of their District's jobs dedicated to America's war machine, whence will come the compromise on military spending? A reduction in the INCREASE of 2% rather than 8%? Please tell me the political party whose platform it is to cut that spending, really cut it, by 50%.

Compromise works when both sides have legitimate positions. When everyone involved has their heads completely up their asses, compromise would seem, at best, a false hope.

Robert Sapp said...

Many liberal canards expressed in your last comment.

Living as Rhonda and I do in the buckle of the Bible belt, we know many people whom you would describe as religious conservatives. Of the men I know from this community, to a man they overwhelming love and cherish their wives and daughters. Their rights as women and human beings are not threatened or at risk, so I don’t understand why you may believe that Christian or Jewish conservatives (not addressing Muslims here, that’s a whole ‘nuther story) somehow hold views that are at odds with those of polite and enlightened society with regards to women’s rights. Does the Catholic Church (a minority among America’s Christians) accept most forms of birth control? No, it doesn’t, for deeply philosophical reasons that have been debated within the church for centuries and are far beyond what we can analyze on their merits within the bounds of a blog comment thread. But here’s the “truth on the ground” on that issue – most Catholics just choose to overlook that stricture, so its overall impact on women’s lives is minimal. Or do you actually believe that there are numerous families in this country in which wives beg their husbands to please let them take birth control pills, and the husbands deny them that access? Because I’m sure they’d be guests on The View if that were true.

Do many religious conservatives believe in creationism? Yes, many do. Probably half the country, in fact. One might say that if half the country has a particular view, then maybe it should at least be mentioned when teaching Earth science. Personally, I find such beliefs harmless and somewhat amusing, doing little if any damage to the community at large, in contrast to people who believe in truly destructive things like Keynesian economics and anthropic global warming.

I’ll give you the fact that all political parties are enthralled with Wall Street and crony capitalism. That’s because regardless of their message, the true goal and purpose of all political parties is obtaining and concentrating power. We have all of human history to show us that government is not a benevolent caretaker focused on improving the lives of its citizens. GIven the ability, it will with absolute certainty eventually become tyrannical. The only way to effectively solve this problem is to limit the government’s ability to exercise power, which was the goal of the Founders when they drafted the Constitution. Unfortunately, the passing of the 16th Amendment gave our government access to virtually limitless amounts of money, and the 17th Amendment upset the carefully constructed balance of power between the states and the Federal government, resulting in our present reality where virtually every action we take is taxed and regulated in some way by the Feds. I’m afraid we are too far down that path now to turn around, which saddens me as I contemplate how different my children’s lives will be from my own.

Robert Sapp said...

Part 2

The vast majority of wealth in this country is earned rather than inherited. For every Kennedy or Rockefeller, there are almost a hundred Gates, Jobs, Zuckerbergs and Buffetts. Personally, I find it immoral and abhorrent that our government somehow feels it’s entitled to any portion of what a person spends their lifetime building. The government isn’t the one that took the risks, fought the fights, and built the successful enterprise. In fact, they were probably standing in the way at every step, issuing regulations, controlling licenses, and skimming 35% off the top (the US has the world’s highest corporate income tax rate). The truth about why even most Democrats oppose what you have called “Death Taxes,” i.e. estate taxes, is because the people most hurt by them were family farmers. A successful trial lawyer can move assets to a trust in the Caymans. But a man who has spent his entire life growing corn on a section of land in Iowa passes away. He may only have a few thousand dollars in the bank, but his square mile of land is worth $10 million. Since he’s “rich,” the government takes 40%, which his heirs can only raise by selling the land. Everyone could see how destructive that was.

All I’ll say about what you call our “war machine” is this. We’re seeing the results daily in the news of “leading from behind” and reducing our defense budget a few percent in order to reduce our worldwide military commitments. Millions of people have died through violence, it’s spreading, and it’s heading our way. Contrast the situation in Iraq or Afghanistan, where we’re bugging out, or what happened in Viet Nam, where millions died after we failed to live up to our post-war commitments, with today’s South Korea, Japan, and Germany, where we maintained a strong post-war military presence. Like it or not, the world needs a policeman or it all falls apart, and for better or worse, we’re it until someone better comes along. I can’t imagine the millions upon millions that would die if we reduced our military spending by 50%.

Thanks, I do so love a good political debate. It gives me something to do while outlining my next novel!

Cheers

TJ said...

We have to get together some day ...
I don't agree that beliefs like Young Earth Creationism are harmless and somewhat amusing. Behind them is the idea that observation and facts can be replaced with myth, fantasy, and wishful thinking; and no harm will be done. It is a disastrous illusion.

There are countless examples of faith in myth leading to tragic decisions. You know them as well as I so, let me ask, would you sail on a boat with a captain who thinks god talks to him, guiding him through the reefs so GPS, charts, and even a compass are not necessary? That is the reality of religious wishful thinking inflicted on a society.

Another evil comes when the holders of such myths, fantasies, and wishful thoughts demand that their particular delusions be accepted as legitimate even by those who do not share them. The demands get ever more strident and, eventually, sectarian violence is the result. The Jews and the Palestinians both insist that the god of Abraham gave each of them exclusive title to the same bit of desert. Each generation is taught this "fact" in the respective schools. They have been killing each other over the claim for my entire adult life. So no, I don't want the creation myth of Christianity taught to my kids or grand kids in science class.

Uncountable people have died over claims based on a mythology and a god who is only an illusion, and will continue to do so as long people insist that myths be treated as equal to, or even more important than, facts.

Such beliefs are far from harmless, and I don't find their effects on human kind to be very amusing.

You seem to share the common conservative illusion that taxes are money stolen by "the government" and then what, disappears? Taxes are what it takes to build and maintain a first world society - which is a massively expensive proposition. Tax dollars flow back into the society, spent for things like roads and teachers salaries. (Well some does, though much of it goes to the military / security / corporate welfare machine – more on that in a bit.) Dollars that flow to the wealthy get spent on a few toys like boats and planes and big houses, but most of it flows offshore to be horded away and gloated over.

You do realize that if America cut its military spending by 50%, we would still be spending more than any other nation on earth? America's military is the most expensive and - since Korea anyway, now some 60 years ago - the least productive military the planet has ever seen. Pretty much every place it goes all it does is make more enemies, kill multitudes of non-combatants, and fail to achieve any discernible good. It makes no difference which party is in the White House. The one thing our military has manifestly failed to do is be a force for peace.

It stormed across Iraq for more than a decade leaving nothing but a powerful terrorist network behind. Afghanistan is the same story. Why think storming across those two nations for another 10 years will bring a different result?

What possible reason is there to think that spending ever more trillions of dollars on weapons system like the F-35, (the biggest screw-up ever for an airplane) or bigger aircraft carriers (which China can now sink at a range further than the ship's planes can fly) or more atomic submarines (which can now be hunted by diesel-electric boats that are even quieter and cost much less to field and service) is somehow going to turn the tide of military failure?

I agree the future looks a bit bleak for the grandkids. But it isn't progressive, scientifically informed, community based politics that is the threat.

Like I said ... we just have to get together and throw back some cold ones. That will be a fun day.

TJ

Paul Bryan said...

Wow. Good and fun comments to read. I'm going to stay out of this one. Blood pressure spikes are not healthy :)

Robert Sapp said...

We must have had some very different experiences with religion and people of faith. The kindest, most generous folks I’ve ever met have been regular church goers. I think belief in something bigger than one’s self is important to maintaining a humble perspective, which is sorely lacking in today’s narcissistic culture. I believe the majority of our modern social pathologies stem from the elevation of self above all else, which is a direct result of distancing ourselves from religion. And I say that as someone who could be called agnostic at best.

To see the ultimate result of progressive, informed, community based politics, study the history of Detroit and how it was destroyed by progressivism. Look at what a cesspool of crime and urban decay New York was until Rudy Giuliani turned it around through conservative policy, and how it is now degenerating again under the extremely progressive Bill de Blasio. Just spend some time on an Indian reservation if you want to see the effects of the progressive paradise of cradle-to-grave social welfare.

Infrastructure is always held up as the reason why we should pay taxes. But roads and bridges are an extremely small portion of our budget. The vast majority of what we are taxed for goes to income redistribution. Over one trillion dollars a year is spent by the Federal government in transfer payments, much more than the defense budget. I don’t think I should be forced to surrender a significant portion of the fruits of my labor so it can be handed to someone else to buy their vote. And I’m of the opinion that the most expensive, least effective way to do anything is to have the government do it. From VA health care to our public schools, government delivered solutions are of generally poor quality.

As for our military being a force for good, just ask the millions of people of Eastern Europe who were freed from communist repression how they feel, or the citizens of Kosovo, or survivors of the many tsunamis and earthquakes that received aid from US forces. The reason there is a terrorist network in Iraq today is not because we invaded but because we left. I’m sure the Nazis would have returned to Berlin if we’d just packed up and left after WWII, but a certain political party is just too determined to relive the glory of losing Viet Nam to learn that lesson.

Ultimately, I believe that while we don’t share the same opinion about many things, we are able to disagree respectfully and have a bit of fun in the process. We’re united more by the things we have in common than divided by our differences.

TJ said...

Robert,

I am absolutely enjoying our differences.

I am an ex-Christian fundamentalist – so you are probably right that my experience with religion is much different than yours. Religion to me is mostly about power, abuse, oppression, war, and tribalism. Individual believers are often the kind people you describe, but they are that way in spite of the gods they worship, not because of them. At the heart of human kind's most pressing expressions of violence is a tribalism based on religion, or a religion based on tribalism.

I absolutly agree that the majority of our modern social pathologies stem from the elevation of self above all else, but that describes conservative ideolgy, not progressive. At the heart of religious ideology is the claim that human kind is special, the center of god's attention and the focal point of the universe. At the heart of conservative mythology is the "self-made man". One can't get any more self-centered than that.

At the heart of progressive ideology is the realization that human kind's best expression of itself is civilization, society, communities working together for the benefit of all. (At least, that is what is is to me.)

On the one hand, you talk of the elevation of self above all as being bad, then are critical of taxes by essentally claiming, "THAT is MINE, and YOU CAN'T HAVE IT." Also, from what I can see the Budget Breaks Down roughly like this: Defense = 19% Social Security = 23% Medicare ect. = 22%. Safety Net Programs = 12% Interest on Debt = 6% Benefits to Vets etc = 8% Trasportation = 3% Science and medical research = 2%. Education = 1%. Non-security international = 1%. All other = 3%. (The % change up and down 1 or 2 depending on which sight's chart you use.)

You and I paid into SS all of our lives. You want to make that go away now? My only problem with Medicare is that it isn't universal health care, something every other first world society has figured out how to do. If you want to pay off the interest on debt, collect enough taxes to pay for what we do, (basically the wars we fight) don't borrow against the future. Transportation is getting way to little, as is research and - especially- education.

That 19% spent on Defense is equal to the total military spending of the next 7 countries on the list, combined. A list that includes virtually every main player in WWII. That war ended 70 years ago yet, from what I can see, the military's budget hasn't shrunk at all from what it was then. How long do you think we can survive trying to pay for fighting a continuous war with the rest of the planet? They are not arming themselves with anywhere near the enthusiasm we are arming ourselves. We are also the world's biggest arms dealer. We often sell or, using taxpayer money - give - weapons to factions who eventually turn the sights on us. Why would we do that if defense was the real reason for the military?

To me your take on taxes simply makes no sense. Also, you say on one hand "the most expensive, least effective way to do anything is to have the government do it." Then you give them a blank check to build weapons and declare wars. You can not, on the one hand, claim how wonderful a job the military branch of the government performs, then claim on the other hand that same government is the bad guy, a waster of money, an enemy of civil rights. (Well, you can, but its silly.)

Oh, by the way, the Republicans are buying your vote with tax cuts, and sending the bill to our grand kids.

I used to work on the Indian Reservations of the American desert west. Nothing about them speaks well of America, not liberal politics, and certainly not conservative politcs. There is nothing of cradle-to-grave welfair, just betrayal and relocation, left to survive in a relentlessly hostile environment with no one in power giving a damn. Not sure what your point was there.

TJ

TJ said...

Robert,

Christian fundamentalists are the same crew that now essentially controls the social / budget politics of the T-party and the Republicans. You see them as a slightly daft group who are basically harmless, thinking that the Flintstones are a documentary and singing "Jesus loves me, this I know..."

That is not my view of them.

You think I am a liberal because I am "left" of you, but I don't think of myself in those terms at all. There are true things, there a false things. Religious based politics is based on nothing but falsehoods. The worst combination in human history is religion married to political and military power.

TJ

Jeffrey Michals-Brown said...

Good on ya, TJ. Good post and debate.

TJ said...

Jeffery, you need to thank Robert as well. He is a serious person making a case for his view, and I value his contributions to my thinking even if I disagree with some of his conclusions or assumptions. Roberts reminds me that, just because I disagree with someone, doesn't mean we can't be friends and, sometimes, even allies.

Robert Sapp said...

Since this is your blog, I intended to retire with grace and allow you to have the last word. You’ve given me such a target rich environment, however, that I find it difficult to restrain myself. But I don’t want to be a boor, so please let me know when you think it’s time to wrap this up or move it offline.

My philosophy does not possess the internal inconsistencies you presume. For instance, I never said I think the government does a wonderful job running the military. I feel they are as wasteful and inefficient at it as they are with all other endeavors they manage. They make critical decisions about weapons and tactics for political rather than practical reasons. Their procurement system is so hopelessly bureaucratic that it takes over 20 years to complete a new acquisition. They use the services to conduct politically correct social experiments at the expense of readiness. If it were possible, I’d contract our national defense out to the Israelis. But unfortunately, there are a few things (usually enumerated in the Constitution) that only the Federal government can do, so we have to live with their incompetency and waste.

For all the above reasons, I greatly fear the government completing its current quest to take over our medical care. Because then decisions about our health, from what medical procedures are developed to what drugs are made available to what care we will be allowed, will also be made for political rather than practical reasons, wrapped in layers of waste and inefficiency. Then, like most countries with socialized medicine, those of us with the means to escape the system or leave the country will still be able to get adequate care, while the rest of the population will get substandard care with no recourse. Think VA Healthcare for everyone!

I would collapse Social Security in a heartbeat, because it is run in exactly the same manner as Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The difference is that when the government does it, it’s legal. Dollars coming in the door today go right back out to pay returns promised to people from years ago. It’s an enormous wealth transfer from the poorest among us (our children trying to get a toe hold in life) to the wealthiest. It’s a system based on a 19th century financial model. We could do so much better. But again, the government is in charge, so while our parents made a pretty good return (the first in to a pyramid scheme usually make out), we’ll be lucky to break even, and our children will see a negative return on their mandatory “investment.”

My point regarding life on an Indian reservation is simply this – people who receive job training, scholarship programs, subsidized or free housing, food assistance, free medical care through the Indian Health Service, who in fact receive the Progressive dream of complete government social support, should be thriving. But they’re not. Because getting everything free from the government (rather, forcing others to pay for it) destroys the soul and sucks the desire to succeed, be productive and self-sufficient out of people. But that is the direction Progressives are taking the entire country. We’ve had six years of active Progressivism. Poverty is up. Dependency is up. Incomes are down. Labor force participation is at its lowest in decades. The results are writ large. Why would we want more of it?

Regarding the elevation of self, there is a world of difference between “I’ll take care of myself, thank you, please just leave me alone” and “gimme gimme look at me” narcissism. Conservatives head to work while bitching about having to pay to take care of people who won’t take care of themselves. Narcissists take selfies while shooting people who don’t give them “respect.” You can say they both result from elevation of self, but there’s a world of difference between the two.

I think that’s enough for today. Maybe we can tackle education tomorrow. Hope the re-coring project is going well.

S/V Island Bound said...

Fantastic post and comments! It is great to see how people can agree, disagree and speak their minds respectful of every one else's view! Kudos! Wish our elected officials could work this way...

TJ said...

Robert,

I'm enjoying our game, it actually gives me something to smile about while working on boat projects. The deck repair is going slow, but we'll get there. Sometimes it reminds me of your comments, so many soft spots its hard to know where to start. (Tag, you're it.)

We agree on the waste, fraud, and abuse rampant in the military. But one of your inconsistencies is showing. You don't mind your tax dollars going there. In fact, you want to increase their budget. But Aid to Families with Dependent Children? One case of someone buying cigarettes instead of milk and the right is calling for the program's budget to get cut or zeroed. Yet if military fraud
equals say, 10% of its budget, 2% of your tax dollar is being wasted. But if AFWDC fraud equals 10% of its budget less than .01% of your tax dollar is being wasted. And they actually do manage to feed a bunch of hungry kids. (About 2.8 million of them.) When conservatives start screaming about the waste in the military with anywhere near the decibels they use on "Welfare Queens", and demanding the same kinds of retributions in the military budget as they do with social safety nets, then they can start boasting about being "consistent."

One of the fun things about cruising, especially outside of US boarders, is the number of Canadian, German, British, French, Australian, and New Zealand people we get to meet. Inevitably, when they discover that I am an American, the subject of healthcare comes up. And just as inevitably comes a similar comment, "What the hell is wrong with America?"

If an American media talking head (radio or TV) hangs the word "socialist" on something, conservatives automatically think "evil". But outside of America, socialist programs often work just fine.

Personally, I don't find the word "socialist" at all scary. Indeed, I would think a socialist health care system has at least as much of a chance of working as a capitalist one. A capitalist one, driven by insurance and pharmaceutical companies, views my illness as a chance to add to the bottom line. Having me healthy, getting me healthy, or keeping me healthy will not increase their stock price. Keeping me ill and on drugs for the rest of my life ...

Anyway, you tell me "socialized medicine" is bad. People I know who live with it don't. In this case, much as like you, I'm going with their opinion of their own systems.

And I'm sorry, but your blanket assessment of all Native Americans is beneath you. Blaming the tribulations of entire civilizations driven from their lands, suffering one of the worst genocides in history, subjected to oppression and abuse of every description over hundreds of years, and banished to live on scraps of desert that barely sustain life, on the the idea that offering them a little help, now, is the REAL reason for their suffering? Frankly, I think you are a better person than that.

Poverty is up. Dependency is up. And incomes are down. But not over the last 6 years, over the last 20. Labor force participation is at its lowest in decades ... you have heard of the great recession, right? The one that cost both Deb and I our middle class jobs. The one that landed on us while Bush II was still in the White House? None of this had anything to do with progressive or liberal politics.

It has everything to do with crony capitalism, corruption, lawlessness, and "to big to fail" banks. You're correct, the system is failing, but it is your system that is failing, the capitalist, greed driven, religious leaning, war fighting one that both Democrats and Republicans support. It is the only one that exists in American.

The "left" thinks if the "right" wins elections, the US will fall. The "right" thinks if the "left wins, the US will fall.

They are both correct.

TJ

TJ said...

Robert,

I would like to go into the Native American thing a bit more, for it is a good analogy for much of our discussions.

You claim progressive politics haven't helped. So what would you do instead?

Would you make sure their children had access to a good education? That's what a progressive would do. Collage loans as well? That's what a progressive would do. Would you offer them serious job training? Would you offer them housing assistance? Health care, yes? Food aid for children, yes? Job placement assistance, yes?

Would you offer them low interest loans to start a business, even knowing that most start-ups fail in the first 2 years, yes? How about tax breaks for hiring and training other Native Americans, yes?

Would you have the government extend the power grid so they had electricity for their business or, better yet, help them with off-the-grid, point of use power creation like solar or wind, yes?

Would you help them protect their communities from flash floods and pollution, yes? Would you extend the highway system so their businesses had access to the nation's market, yes? (Most of the roads on the Reservations are dirt.)

Would you do these things? If so, then you are as progressive as I am. And if not, just what is it you are calling help?

And if you would, then why not do them for all other American's as well?

TJ