The Time Machine

In a free society, there is a constant tension between people and government due to a supposed causality dilemma. That dilemma revolves around two conditions that are the same and yet different at the same time. They are akin to two planets, spaced equidistant from each other in the same orbit, furiously circumnavigating the same incendiary celestial orb and like an orbit in balance, each of these two virtual homophones of liberty is necessary for the existence of the other. The two of which I write are the conditions of self-determination and self-reliance. These are also synonyms for the conditions of Natural Law called freedom and independence.

Which comes first? Which begets the other? Are we able to determine our own fates because we are self-reliant (independent) or is our independence a result of our ability to decide for ourselves that a path?

Background

Roughly fifteen years ago, I achieved a career milestone as I climbed over the hurdle to become part of what is termed “senior divisional management” – about two ladder rungs above site operational leadership and the same two rungs below the “C-Suite” (COO, CEO, CFO, etc.). I have also become known as a bit of a “fixer” – I have been tasked with managing businesses that are having difficulty or that just need a little push to start achieving at a higher level. I’ve been very fortunate to work with teams of people in the past several years that have been receptive to my leadership and have in turn helped to achieve the two greatest year-over-year “turn-arounds” in the history of my career. In the first, we were able to maneuver from a $10.6 million loss to a $2.8 million positive and the other from a $3.2 million loss to an $11.3 million profit, swings of $13.4 and $14.5 million respectively.

These two changes have come in separate geographical locations but in very similar businesses and similar market conditions – making a direct comparison and contrast possible – but when it comes to people, they also came about by very different means.

I am a proponent of the theory that states that most often when organizations are under-performing; it is usually because there is an absence of good leadership, not an absence of good people. In my 30 years in organizations, large and small, I have rarely come across systems populated by bad people determined to do bad things. What I do see are organizations where people are victims of their management in that:

  • Management puts the wrong people in the wrong jobs – their skills are unsuited for their task, their personalities are a poor match for the interactions necessary to be successful or they have been selected for all the wrong reasons (being the company’s brightest engineer will NOT guarantee that you will be the best manager – most times NOT)
  • Management has too much patience with the underachievers and trouble makers –often the people who are the most difficult to deal with are the ones who, because of experience, special knowledge or perceived value to the company have achieved a perceived Teflon coating. These are often the people who are seen as being people the company can least afford to lose – but often are the biggest roadblocks to forward progress.
  • Management does not allow understanding of the actual goal
  • Management counts too much on their own brilliance, never harnessing the intellectual power of the larger group and never allowing the freedom for the group to grow and gain confidence.

As I said, similar situations but two distinctly different approaches – in one, I had to replace several senior level site managers because they were not right for the positions or the direction that was necessary for us to take, in the second – not a single manager was replaced. We simply assessed where the best skill fits were and shifted leadership responsibilities accordingly – both approaches yielded positive results.

When I look at the commonality of success between these two situations there is one theme that emerges – the change in the businesses would have been impossible without the emergence of two factors:

  • The confidence built on self-reliance, and
  • The independence to make their own decisions about their areas of responsibility.

The Catalyst

As a senior level executive, one of my major responsibilities is to assure that the organization can live on without me. The very first job that I do in any situation is to immediately start looking for my successor, working to answer the “If you get hit by a bus tomorrow, who leads the organization?” question.

To hold my position in any company, one has to be comfortable with self-determination and self-reliance – because for most of the time you are working without a net. When one manages international activities, one cannot call his or her boss for a decision – because many times the time zones prevent immediate communication and many situations require immediate answers. Managerial self reliance and self-determination are both essential and necessary in such a role.

That is why I look for – and work hard to cultivate – these two characteristics of leadership and also why I found some recent comments by our President quite troubling. Last week, ABC reported (via Bruce McQuain at The Conservatory):

At a million-dollar San Francisco fundraiser today, President Obama warned his recession-battered supporters that if he loses the 2012 election it could herald a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.

“The one thing that we absolutely know for sure is that if we don’t work even harder than we did in 2008, then we’re going to have a government that tells the American people, ‘you are on your own,’” Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel.

“If you get sick, you’re on your own. If you can’t afford college, you’re on your own. If you don’t like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you’re on your own,” he said. “That’s not the America I believe in. It’s not the America you believe in.”

Obama and Democrats have been emphasizing what they see as the costly consequences of the Republicans’ agenda in an effort to stir up support, in part by touching on emotional nerves.

Think on these for just a minute:

  • “…a new, painful era of self-reliance in America.”
  • “…you are on your own…”
  • “…an effort to stir up support, in part by touching on emotional nerves.”

If there is nothing else that crystallizes the differences between “progressives” and classical liberals, this should be the defining text. When the elected official to the highest office in the country uses the term “self-reliance” as a pejorative, it is clear that he does not understand the foundation that this country was built on.

I happened to run across this column in the City Journal by a former Time magazine editor, Stefan Kanfer.  Kanfer is hardly taking Obama to task; he seems to be a good, card carrying “progressive” and as such is condemning ABC for “misreading” Obama’s speech – but in his condemnation of ABC and his defense of the President, he arrives at the truth, albeit via a circuitous route:

“A few paragraphs separated by nearly two centuries chart a downhill slalom from liberty to dependency. First, here’s Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Self-Reliance”: “The education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand; alms to sots; and the thousandfold Relief Societies;—though I confess with shame I sometimes succumb and give the dollar, it is a wicked dollar which by and by I shall have the manhood to withhold.”

The term was not always viewed that way, as Emerson’s lauding of self-sufficiency in his 1841 essay shows. The ensuing decade proved the value of Emerson’s economic and moral philosophy. Some examples:

  • The explorer Captain Charles Wilkes circumnavigated the continent and claimed Antarctica for the United States.
  • The Supreme Court declared that in the case of the slave ship Amistad, Africans who had taken control of the vessel had been bound into slavery illegally.
  • The first wagon train left for California from Independence, Missouri. The journey took seven hard months.
  • Edgar Allan Poe began publishing his short stories.
  • Horace Greeley founded the first great American newspaper, the New York Tribune.
  • Samuel F. B. Morse sent out a message over the first telegraph line: “What hath God wrought?”
  • The patent for vulcanization, a process that strengthened rubber, was granted to Charles Goodyear.
  • Elias Howe invented the sewing machine.
  • The American Medical Association was founded in Philadelphia.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to receive a medical-school degree.

In this accounting, Kanfer finds the golden nugget among the rocks in the riverbed:

None of these accomplishments would have been possible without the quality of individual autonomy. None of these history-makers was seeking a federal handout; none was looking for guarantees in the pursuit of unprecedented goals. In their slipstream would come a parade of individuals who owed their success to self-reliance—from Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh to John F. Kennedy, the Apollo astronauts, and those supremely independent garage-tinkerers, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. For them, as for most Americans, self-reliance was seen as a virtue, not a liability, a characteristic worth promoting, not denigrating.

In the new millennium, safety nets abound, from Social Security to unemployment insurance. But these entitlements are meant to reinforce individuality by giving U.S. citizens freedom from catastrophic financial worries. They are not meant to encourage the seeking of ever more handouts, ever more dependence on cash-strapped federal and state governments.

Then in validation of the antecedent of the Law of Diminishing Liberal Intelligence, which states:

If a liberal hasn’t said something illogical, self-contradictory, physically or financially impossible, historically inaccurate or just outright stupid, you just haven’t listened to them long enough…

…so of course, Kanfer keeps on writing:

If the folks at ABC are ever to understand the country they fly over, they would be well advised to stop misreading speeches and get back to some basic American literature. They might start with the great Transcendentalist and abolitionist who knew all about the “wicked dollar” and how, left unchallenged, it could lead to economic and moral serfdom.

One paragraph too many…”missed it by thaaaaat much“…should have stopped one paragraph sooner.

The Conclusion

Kanfer is the one who is “misreading” Obama’s speech. Actually, he is trying to “reinterpret” the words that come directly from the President’s mouth. Combined with his policies of bigger and more intrusive government, greater taxes and spending, involvement and control over larger and larger sectors of the economy, federal ownership in industry, partnership with labor unions and the expansion of the welfare state the meaning of his words are quite clear. When he says:

“If you get sick, you’re on your own. If you can’t afford college, you’re on your own. If you don’t like that some corporation is polluting your air or the air that your child breathes, then you’re on your own,” he said.

His meaning is clear-  as are his goals and those of his Party.

With respect to the causality dilemma questions of:

  • Which comes first?
  • Which begets the other?
  • Are we able to determine our own fates because we are self-reliant (independent) or is our independence a result of our ability to decide for ourselves that a path?

Having observed organizational dynamics in my own experiences and after a great deal of reflection, my answer to all three questions is this: there is no true causality dilemma because both conditions must exist in parallel in order for the American experiment in liberty to exist. There can be no self-reliance without self-determination and no self-determination absent of self-reliance. There is a direct relationship between the two.

If one is diminished, the other is as well.

Humans are born with the ability to be self-reliant. Natural law prescribes this in the very DNA of our being, the drive to survive is resident in every living thing – to fight or flee, to live or die and to procreate – all are part of the circle of life.

The difference is that humans have the capacity to choose how they accomplish their survival. Where the members of the animal kingdom must accept the conditions of their existence, humans do not.

Humans can change their environment -they can alter the very landscape of the Earth by harnessing the power of mighty rivers, increasing the agricultural output of the land by making the infertile fertile, inventing labor saving devices and even taming the physical world at the atomic level. They can choose where and how to live by constructing governments among themselves to provide a better chance of survival under their own terms.

While by the grace of God and the Constitution of the United States of America, this is still possible – Americans can have self-reliance and self-determination bred out of them. In our self-satisfied world of fully stocked grocery stores on every corner, 500 cable channels where a competitive eating contest on ESPN 8 can have a higher rating than a political debate, where cities experience riots after the city’s sports team WINS a major championship and college football fans and students protest in support of a long time coach who is alleged to have ignored multiple incidents of child sex abuse by one of his staff *, it is obvious to me that we can (and are) becoming the Eloi of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine.

Of course we aren’t the actual foodstuff for the Morlocks as Wells anticipated in his novel, but we are the political food source for the political Morlocks in government, metaphorical fodder for their sustenance – for it is not flesh that they demand, it is the fruits of our labor and by extension, our ability to determine our own future.

By continuing to command more and more aspects of American life, the political Morlocks are stripping us of our freedom and independence just as surely as if we were roasted to a tender medium-rare and consumed bite by bite with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

* It must be noted that far from being an enemy of sport, last weekend I was up all night here in Edinburgh just so I could watch the Alabama/LSU game on ESPN America…

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27 thoughts on “The Time Machine

  1. eloi=proletariat, perhaps?
    I wish I could say the ‘painful’ self-reliance’ was just an unfortunate term, a poor choice of words. Because, whether or not you like the man, Obama is a hard worker and a good father, et.al.
    However, whether or not you like the man, Obama is a very smart man, a very articulate man, as denoted by his own VP. I think you are right, he is viscerally committed to the safety net, and not as just a way to help people up, but as a permanent state of being. Which actually makes Him the conservative, right? For all his talk about change, he wants things to stay basically the same. And that, as I have said before, makes you and Black the radicals!
    If you allow that all the self-reliance in the world won’t protect one from mercury in the fish and hydrogen sulfides in the air, that inspections of food-oriented sites and testing of the air and water for pollutants is done better on the federal level, if you agree that we can no more trust the guy who runs the plant any more than we can trust the agency guy with the clipboard, then we are pretty much in agreement. Or did I go a paragraph too far?

    • Actually, yes…you did go one paragraph too far. You wandered into the territory that all liberals do. The illegitimate meme that we just want to abolish everything so that we can poison the air and water again is crap…as if we did in the first place. Who created the EPA –why, it was Richard Nixon…and Nixon was a…that’s right, a Republican?
      Being a classical liberal doesn’t mean anarchist. It means that government stays within the bounds set for it.

      • G, Utah got you here. Although you’re getting better, you are still trying to set up straw men to hack down.

        As I told you earlier this week, my friend: if you cannot ACCURATELY and FAITHFULLY state your opponent’s position, you do not fully understand your own.
        :-)

      • ALL bureaucracies are in contradiction to the Constitution. They are an extension of Wilson’s argument for administrative govt. As such, they trace their lineage to the Progressive movement: a campaign to destroy the Constitution by slowly subverting it from within until a new govt. had been built and the old facade could finally be dropped. In this light, whether he was aware of it or not (and I suspect he was), Nixon merely furthered Wilson’s attack on the Constitution when he created the EPA.

        I would see ALL bureaucracies done away with and Congress set back to doing what the Constitution tasked them to do. In like mind, I would also return to the original method of electing the President, VP and the Senators and repeal the 16th and 17th Amendments. But then, I am for liberty, not social justice or the collective. Perhaps this is why I am growing to understand and appreciate the Constitution more and more every day – but the ORIGINAL COnstitution, as it was meant to be used – not according to the Federalists, but according to the greater debate between they and the Anti-Federalists.

    • “For all his talk about change, he wants things to stay basically the same. And that, as I have said before, makes you and Black the radicals!”

      G,

      I have already admitted to this. This is actually my point to those who call themselves conservative. In this respect, Progressives are light years ahead of the conservative movement in that they are fully aware of the effect language has on how we think.

  2. Utah, when Nixon was President, I was 15+ in age. Birmingham had to practically shut down on certain days, when heat inversions would trap the smoke from the unregulated smelters that shared the bowl that was the valley where the city lay choking. The concerned business folk and pols that ran the city issued the following statement:

    “Harumph, y’all, that is the smell of money! Dew yew want to impoverish the good citizens?”

    That was not really a statement they put out, you got me there, it was merely the sentiment expressed by those who were charged with protecting the public weal. It was said here in Panama City, for real and quite often, about the local paper mill. Meanwhile up north, people were warned not to swim in Lake Erie, the Hudson River caught fire once!

    There was, before the term was even invented, an eco-terrorist in the Chicago area who would do things like climb the stack of a polluting factory, and cover the opening with a tarp, so that the foul smoke was trapped and spread through the factory. Dubbed The Fox, he once walked into a corporate headquarters of some manufacturer in the area, and dumped a bucket of foul-smelling sludge on the CEO’s desk before escaping; he was never identified, unless I missed it. Of course the police were called, and the CEO was on the air calling for an end to the Fox’s reign of terror.”

    “That stuff could be dangerous! He has to be caught! No telling what is in that sludge” It was words to that effect, and there actually was telling what was in that sludge, as the Fox filled the bucket from the pipe that ran from the factory straight into Lake Michigan! I like that guy, The Fox. Maybe you’re right, Utah, would Ayn Rand take the Fox’s private sector methods over the EPA’s, or just buy land further away from the polluters and say ‘problem solved’?

    Okay, rant over; you weren’t around, I guess. I am 58, I have SEEN the difference that Nixon’s EPA has made in the quality of our water and air. Maybe those who only see the after don’t have the perspective to properly judge the qualitative difference. The EPA’s success has backfired; the air and water are so pristine now that one can indulge this fantasy that The Market will magically keep things this way; it won’t.

    I have power over who gets elected, and who will enforce the laws or be unelected. I can’t directly control who craps in my water or doesn’t clean their slaughterhouse properly, and these people will not self-regulate, Utah, in the main, they never have.

    • “Utah, when Nixon was President, I was 15+ in age. Birmingham had to practically shut down on certain days, when heat inversions would trap the smoke from the unregulated smelters that shared the bowl that was the valley where the city lay choking. The concerned business folk and pols that ran the city issued the following statement:

      “Harumph, y’all, that is the smell of money! Dew yew want to impoverish the good citizens?”

      And now – after they have their regs – they cry that business is going overseas and impoverishing the citizens.

      Might have been easier to simply use the theory of natural law appropriately:

      1 — deal with the idea of corporations (sorry, Utah, they are NOT “property” in the sense the American right likes to think of them, they are artificial people and, under the law, technically shouldn’t be “owned’)

      2 — after returning business back to the hands of individuals, reform the CIVIL judicial system so those who suffer REAL damages can sue for compensation. Pollute a river, lose your business. Gee, do you think THAT might have worked any better than fining and regulating them over seas?

    • “Okay, rant over; you weren’t around, I guess. I am 58, I have SEEN the difference that Nixon’s EPA has made in the quality of our water and air. Maybe those who only see the after don’t have the perspective to properly judge the qualitative difference. The EPA’s success has backfired; the air and water are so pristine now that one can indulge this fantasy that The Market will magically keep things this way; it won’t.”

      Another fallacy, G??? You’re tilting at windmills, bro.

      The claim that the free market will not or cannot handle things like making sure the air and water are clean IS A LIE! The problem you have, my friend, is that you do not understand what the free market is. It is NOT Laze-fair Corporatism. The system so many leftists – especially the Progressives – revile is actually called FASCISM (made this case – many times). A FREE market REQUIRES a govt., that is CORRUPTION FREE and FAIR in the application and enforcement of the laws. Do that, and the right to private property WILL result in clean water and air, and an abundance in natural resources – because the owners need to manage and renew them to sustain their businesses.

      Now, throw govt. in to the mix with its unfair laws and application/enforcement of those laws and its meddling regulation and you create the monster you seek to destroy.

      “Sometimes it is said that man can not be trusted with government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question.”

      –Thomas Jefferson.

      The Progressives claimed Man had “evolved” to the point where these men and women now exist. Have you found those angels in govt., G? If so, name them. If not, I refer you to the Founders arguments against the very things for which you appear to argue.

  3. And I see that I misrepresented your position. I thought you were implying that the EPA was another liberal program that needed abolishing.
    No, I know better about you, that is why I don’t understand your reply, I was merely referring to the sentence in Obama’s speech that referenced clean air and water. I think we talked past one another once again. No harm, no foul

  4. Think on this for just a minute: “Obama told a crowd of 200 donors over lunch at the W Hotel….”

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist….

    I see both sides of this argument. Greg, don’t you think the EPA, for instance, is given just a wee bit too much power? And is the DOJ screwed up or just its handler, er, czar? How about the Dept. of Education? Just thinking out loud here…..

  5. Kells, it is always a balancing act, or juggling, if we want to stick to circus analogies. As long as everybody has to play by the same rules, and as long as there is a comment period and citizen feedback before a regulation is enacted, and the body of law is reviewed periodically and vetted for effectiveness and its impact on business, keep the EPA around, I say.

  6. I am late to the game here, but I believe I have something to offer that deserves careful consideration. M, you said:

    “If there is nothing else that crystallizes the differences between “progressives” and classical liberals, this should be the defining text.”

    I prefer to go to the horse, my friend, so let’s let Johnson Goodnow, Progressive founding father, tell us what Progressives believe:

    “We no longer believe as we once believed that a good social organization can be secured merely through stressing our rights…But we have come to the conclusion that man under modern conditions is primarily a member of society and that only as he recognizes his duties as a member of society can he secure the greatest opportunities as an individual.” (the American Conception of Liberty)

    THAT is what the Progressive believes. And, according to another Progressive founder, Woodrow Wilson, the Progressive also believes the executive and legislative bodies should be one, with the executive being popularly elected to then determine what the people “want” so as to pass general resolutions which are then handed to unaccountable bureaucrats who will then write the rules and regulations, administer them and even function as judges over disputes arising from this administration. (What is Progress, from “The New Freedom,” Ch 2)

    In other words, the Progressive seeks to use the notion that there is a greater moral imperative in direct democracy to elect a dictator who will then rule by decree through bureaucracies whose administrators have tenured positions and cannot be removed by the people. The Progressive argues for democratic tyranny and insists you accept your submission to his self-appointed rule as a moral imperative.

  7. Black, how can I be lying? I will leave out the part about me being highly offended for now. You are talking theory, black, actually hypothesizing is closer to the truth. Your vision of what should be hasn’t ever been tried in an industrial society. Had it been tried, and had it been successful, we would not be talking about this.
    I like your ideas, you know that, but Nixon did not have the luxury of re-building society from the ground up; that is the purview of people you profess to despise, yet here you are, suggesting the same thing, tear it down and start over. I just defended Richard Nixon, somewhere, my Dad is smiling down on me.

    dueling quote time

    “And that all men may be restrained from invading others’ rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of nature is in that state, put into every man’s hands, whereby everyone has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree, as may hinder its violation”. –John Locke

    But we have come to the conclusion that man under modern conditions is primarily a member of society and that only as he recognizes his duties as a member of society can he secure the greatest opportunities as an individual.” Jean Jacques Rousseau

    “…the right of any individual over his own estate is always subordinate to the right of the community over everything; for without this there would be neither strength in the social bond nor effective force in the exercise of sovereignty.”–John Goodnow

    Obviously, progressives can look back further than the 19th century for their origins.

    Remember my ancestor, the selfless Elkanah Cobb, who dammed up a river on which the town downriver relied. The water became turgid, foul, and disease ridden. In court, he lost the fight to keep the dam, but the town had to pay for its removal.
    I am glad the town did not do what they should have, immediately torn that dam down and dared the bearer of what would be me to stop them. It could have ended bad for the Cobb portion of my DNA.

    Elkanah violated the social contract, and the general will ultimately prevailed. Now, let me ask you this; what if there had been no town downstream? Only the land is hurt, the ecology is thrown off-balance, but a new balance is ultimately achieved.

    Second question; what if people move downstream from the Cobb Place, and establish a town? Do they have the right to demand that the dam be destroyed, in the name of the general will? What if the land downriver is in another state, and impacts a town?

    I believe that we have obligations to society, Locke even mentions risking one’s life for the good of the people as a whole. Elkanah clearly violated the social compact. But is the guy whose cigar smoke drifts over the fence and into little Timmy’s nostril, equally guilty?

    That scenario, Black, is ridiculous, I agree. but where is the line? That is all we are apart on, I think.

    Goodnow does not speak for me, any more than David Hume speaks for you.

    You sound awful defensive of your indefensible position. Calling me a liar in relation to a hypothetical is not a sound debate tactic, and is just plain rude.
    Capitalists don’t need to worry about renewing anything; they deal with what is, whether they made it that way or not. If fresh water becomes scarce, a capitalist doesn’t clean the rivers, he will market home water filters, and sell bottled water at whatever price the market will bear.
    As I have said before, capitalism wraps itself around the rules that a nation makes. Capitalism without governance is akin to mob rule, only with economic power, not human numbers as the currency. And thinking that either business or government will perform in an honest and fair manner without some check on their powers is the height of folly, but it is not a lie.

    good night

  8. “Your vision of what should be hasn’t ever been tried in an industrial society. Had it been tried, and had it been successful, we would not be talking about this.”

    So why do so many on the left claim it has failed when you just admitted it hasn’t been tried? And how can wee say it won’t work when we’ve never tried it? And why do we insist on keeping to a system we’ve been trying for decades when we KNOW it doesn’t work? Are you hearing that old thing about trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result ringing in your head yet?

    btw: I do NOT advocate tearing anything down, I advocate the same process the Progressives have been using to try to build their utopian idea out of our founders’ model of representative republican govt.: just start making the changes that go BACK in the founders’ direction. Society will change over time as you go – no need to tear down and rebuild. (straw man again, G).

    The Progressives most certainly do look back farther than the 1850’s forward. They are actually in great agreement with Hobbs. And one need look no further than Europe to see the results of their ideas in practice. When the individual is told he MUST subordinate himself to society, and society is nothing more than the WILL of one man, then you have tyranny and the individual is being told to WILLINGLY make himself slave. You cause me to suddenly start hearing Patrick Henry’s voice ringing in my head, G.

    Elkanah should have been forced to pay to remove the dam, THAT is part of Natural Law. As for your objection to the social contract, I believe you have an improper understanding of how it should work (read my e-book, brother). In some respects, I believe our founders even had it wrong. It works, but you must understand it in its entirety. Elkanah had a duty to preserve natural rights as part of Natural Law. Under Locke’s view, one does not have a Natural Right to do ANYTHING one wishes. Now, under Hobbs’ view – the Progressive view – you could make your case and, thus, be justified in rejecting NR/NL theory. But you’ll do little more than end up in Europe again. Are you ready to move to Greece?

    “I believe that we have obligations to society, Locke even mentions risking one’s life for the good of the people as a whole.”

    Here again, you do not hold a complete understanding of NR/NL and the Social Contract. If I enter in to the contract by accepting the benefits of society, then I have WILLINGLY committed to attend to society’s needs as part of the deal. In return, I am afforded greater protections by that society. But keep in mind, NR/NL says I cannot agree to give away my NR nor trample the rights of another in the process. So long as this principle is adhered to, then the Social Contract is binding and Locke would be correct: I DO owe up to my life to defend the society as I WILLINGLY AGREED TO THIS! You are arguing a complex straw man, which then makes your illustrations inaccurate as well.

    “You sound awful defensive of your indefensible position.”

    My position is imminently defensible. Neither is it “theory” as this nation was built on the ideas to which I am ascribing. Nor are the ideas of the Progressives “theory,” as they have led directly to the trouble with which our nation now wrestles.

    Finally, I UTTERLY AND TOTALLY reject this repeated claim from the left that Capitalism seeks to operate without rules. For the last time: BY DEFINITION, THAT IS NOT CAPITALISM!!! For capitalism to work, there MUST be rules. How can you have capitalism without the protection of individual rights and liberty – especially the protection of private property???

    What you are calling capitalism IS THE PURE STATE OF NATURE! Once you get that straight, my friend, things might start clearing up for you. Until then, I will continue to bat your objections away like so many gnats as they are built upon fallacious predicates and assumptions and, as such, cannot stand up to the scrutiny of simple logic.

    But, G, sincerely, you know I love you, bro. I just want you to start thinking this one through for yourself and discard what you’ve been told by BOTH sides in the past. You KNOW what I mean. :-)

  9. I will interject this, not from a from a learned scholar point of view, but from the view of a regular citizen. There has to be a “highest” form of supervision (control if you will) where large corporations are concerned. When corporations (I was in Birmingham in the 60’s and saw the pollution first hand) such as USS control the local governments; city, county, and state, due to their influence (read dollars) in the community, they are pretty much free to do as they please. Civil action against USS in the 50’s and 60’s?? Impossible, they owned Birmingham and the local citizenry. It was truly a “company town”. This was repeated in old steel towns across the rust belt; Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and others. It also happened in old textile towns and refinery towns. Many are still polluted. If you believe that giant corporations such as Occidental Petroleum (Hooker Chemical, Love Canal) or PG&E (Hinckley, CA) will “do what’s right” when left unsupervised or unaccountable to a higher power, you are naive. The government has spent trillions of dollars in EPA superfund monies cleaning up corporate pollution. In some corporations, granted not all, the dollar takes precedent over everything else and the average citizen is powerless to stop them for two reasons. Most citizens do not have the financial or political pull, and they usually work for these corporations, effectively jeopardizing their own livelyhood. Without the EPA and government intervention, there is little doubt we would have our own Lake Karachay in the U.S.

  10. FL, respectfully, my objection to the majority of your post is identical to those I aim at Greg: you are NOT arguing against my position, but against a straw man you have constructed. Because both you and Greg make this same mistake, your “solution” is flawed for the very same reason you attack the corporations. Let me see if I can help you see what I am seeing in your argument. You said:

    “Without the EPA and government intervention, there is little doubt we would have our own Lake Karachay in the U.S.”

    But the people who run the EPA are as corruptible as the corporations you seek to control through it, and the people have ZERO control over that bureaucracy (which, incidentally, is exactly why the progressives instituted bureaucratic controls over our govt.). You are ignoring that the men/women you seek to “save us” will just as likely join with the corporations to enslave us – or have you taken a look around lately?

    Look, I am not your enemy. I do not deny the problems you name. I just see the problem differently than you do. Corporations are the problem because they have been allowed to exist in the first place. Our founders did not allow them. The closest thing they had were charter companies, and they held those under close govt. control. As a social construct, a corporation SHOULD fall under govt. control, but we have permitted them to become legal people without the ability to hold them accountable to the law. You want to end these problems, end corporations as they are now – simple as that.

    Once private property is ALWAYS in the hands of a few people – not as in the wealthy elite, but as in ownership of specific companies – then it is a simple matter of designing the law to function according to NATURAL LAW! You own a business that pollutes my water, I can bring CIVIL suit in a TIMELY fashion – plenty of room for just legislation to insure this here. If I make my case, YOU pay ALL damages – PERIOD! and not to the govt, to the injured parties. So I will not only recover my cost of trying you, I will recover my damages and, if it is my health, what price does one put on that? I may well own your company when the suit is done.

    But, as it is now, you can keep looking to govt. and govt. will keep telling you it is big business that is too powerful to control while they keep passing laws that fine you for polluting, but at a rate only those big businesses can afford to pay. So you can’t use your property, but business just does what it wants and pays the fine afterward. THAT, my friend, is GOVT>’s fault – and proof that you will not achieve the goal you seek in the manner you seek to achieve it. it is ONLY through PROPER understanding and protection of private property that we can TRULY fix the problem in the long term.

  11. Also repectfully, I will address your post in this manner;

    1)”But the people who run the EPA are as corruptible as the corporations you seek to control through it, and the people have ZERO control over that bureaucracy . . . ”
    There are corruptable people everywhere (look at Penn State). I realize that there are corruptible gov’t officials, but a government entity AS A WHOLE (think EPA) is less likely to be as corruptible as a self-serving corporation, therefore they should act in the interest of the many, not the few. Unless of course, you believe our gov’t is totally corrupted and useless. A government of the people, by the people, for the people? (Abe LIncoln)

    2)”You own a business that pollutes my water, I can bring CIVIL suit in a TIMELY fashion – plenty of room for just legislation to insure this here. If I make my case, YOU pay ALL damages – PERIOD!”
    Do you have the financial resources to take on BP when they pollute the Gulf of Mexico and put your charter fishing boat out of business? Close your restaurant for lack of customers? Force BP to clean up their mess? No, but the government does.

    3)”it is ONLY through PROPER understanding and protection of private property that we can TRULY fix the problem in the long term.”
    Would BP (or PG&E or USS) not make the same argument? This is my property!!!! I can do with it as I please (not to mention I’ll make a profit of BILLIONS of dollars annually while I do it) and when I’m done, I’ll walk off and leave it so toxic no one can live there for eons.

    When I lived in N. Alabama in the 80’s, the coal strip miners were ruining the enviroment leaving huge open pits, erosion and toxic runoff problems. EPA attempted to fix this by making the companies put up a $5m bond in an escrow account to “rehabilitate” the strip mined sites and “restore them to their natural state”. The coal companies responded by doing so much more damage that $5m wouldn’t fix the problems they caused and simply walking away from the $5m. It was cheaper to give that money up. The EPA reponded by increasing the escrow amount. The coal mining companies eventually gave up. Who was right, the EPA or the strip miners?

    Your argument SEEMS to predicated upon “the government is totally corrupted”. If that’s the case, why vote for a president? Has it gone too far to be fixed by anyone?

    • 1 – govt as we have it now, both here in this nation and abroad, serves itself. It merely uses the idea of “doing good for the people” to justify its actions, but it is in bed with business – until business no longer serves the govt.’s need. Then govt. runs that business over as it did with GM and BP (as well as others).

      2 – FL, I am not speaking to the way things are now, but as they were SUPPOSED to be AND COULD BE IF WE APPLIED OURSELVES. Rather than busying itself with over-regulation, why can’t the govt. simplify the legal process so that you or I CAN bring suit against BP? Better still, modify the way big business is structured and then I would be bringing suit against the actual owners of BP – not some artificial entity that has no purpose being allowed to exist as it does now.

      3 – THEY CANNOT! As things stand, we have so perverted the idea of a corporation that it is no longer property, it is as much an entity as the govt is. How does one claim “ownership” of govt? Allowing a CEO to point to share holders is a non sequitor: they have no authority over that property and, in many cases, can’t even vote, thus they “own” the company in name only. This is part of what I’m trying to explain: we need to stop allowing the dead to inherit the earth by allowing corporations to exist in their present form.

      Your coal mine example actually illustrates my point: govt. cannot control the hearts of men.

      And, if a corrupt govt. is beyond control, ask King George how we came to be. Though I am NOT advocating that rout now, I AM advocating that the people start to govern themselves and simply take back what is theirs. If the States tell the feds NO, what can Washington really do?

      In the end, I am doing NOTHING except arguing for solutions that are within the confines of the Constitution, but even more, the ideals and principles expressed in the Declaration. They CAN work – we just have to start thinking in those terms and not in the Progressive box in which we live now. Think like a founder, not Woodrow Wilson ;-)

  12. “Your coal mine example actually illustrates my point: govt. cannot control the hearts of men.”

    So, my point (in case I didn’t make myself clear) was is it okay for the strip miners to ruin the environment or should the gov’t, using it’s resources, force them to stop?

    At what point do we allow corporations to just do as they please; rape and pillage the environment? When do “we” step in (our government speaking on behalf of the citizenry) and force them to stop? When it finally became nonprofitable for the strip miners to quit ruining the planet, they stopped.

    You and I don’t completely agree on this issue. I believe the government does still serve the people, but its direction is no longer as clear as it once was. To a very large degree, corporations have bought the government, and due to “laws of incorporation”, it is very difficult to ascertain who/what/where controls or owns the corporation. On that we do agree.

  13. “So, my point (in case I didn’t make myself clear) was is it okay for the strip miners to ruin the environment or should the gov’t, using it’s resources, force them to stop?”

    Depends on your perspective on govt. If it is the people, then the people force them to stop THROUGH the govt., which would be nothing more than the enforcing of the social contract the business ownership is assumed to have agreed to in accepting the protections of society. If you see govt. as an entity unto itself, then it matters little: neither you nor I can do much about what the govt. decides to do or not to do.

    Personally, if the company causes damage to another’s rights, I believe that individual has the right to seek compensation and it is govt.’s job to provide the mechanism by which this can be done fairly but speedily and without cost to the HARMED party.

    As for the rest, I guess I’ll need to write an expanded post on the issue of the modern corporation as I can’t seem to make myself clear to you (my fault, not yours). Greg will appreciate the post as well. Give me the evening and let me see what I can do after the Mrs. goes to bed.

  14. I really feel like I understand your issue on the issue of the modern corporation, but I guess my issue is that we will never go back to that place you keep talking about, you know, that Utopia where “everyman” has the right and the MEANS to seek compensation from a corporation. We already know that corporations (in general) WILL NOT adhere to the social contract of business ownership and accepting the protections of society.

    So what do you (or everyman) do?

  15. Pingback: Sitting Down To Dinner With The Morlocks | The Rio Norte Line

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