Monday, April 27, 2009

Of Nature, Pancakes and Honesty and the solution to All our Problems!

There is nothing like a trip to nature and I mean IN clear and center the mind.  It happens almost unconsciously but the truth of it is that it's not unconscious at all but just that I simply cover it up with my daily routine.

Well there is nothing "Daily" or "Routine" about skiing Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington.  The story is for another time and it will be told but after coming back from the majestic, life and death Presidential Range I was greeted by a flurry of articles in the local papers and a clarity of thought about them.  

I am going to mix them all up here and like my pancake breakfast this morning I am going to make one giant pancake of it all including my version of Vermont Maple Syrup...

So here's the batter - 

People in Vermont care and are engaged in "caring" on a powerful (for good and ill) level.  It is exactly this "caring" that leads to the MAIN issue which is:  There is simply too much to "care" for, there are too many issues, too many "causes" and since this is MY pancake I get to say that the "causes" are really just effects of a greater and more singular issue.  More directly:

If we truly want to get at the solutions to all that ails us the objective must be to go deeper than the effects we are seeing and look for deeper solutions than the solutions to the effects could ever provide.  To me this is obvious but, again, it's my pancake and I have a close personal relationship with it.

My pancake cannot rise and be delicious without HONESTY...our society, our greatest politicians, businessmen, philosophers, children, students, people will not come close to a REAL solution without a reverence for honest definition.  I have found that people from all sides of the political and social spectrum are so emotionally invested in their "causes" that they actually lie outright about their definitions.  I would say that more than 90% of the public discussion that goes on about the issues of our day are not accurate representations of the reality of the situations but are self-styled, heavily personal accounts, which is understandable BUT not acceptable as a means to solve the problems of our day.  Whether people consciously lie or not makes no difference, the point is that we are not discussing our problems and options honestly.  We do not have a commitment to honesty, we have a commitment to winning the argument.  We do not have a commitment to reality we have a commitment to OUR cause...

There were three issues that came up to me as I sat in a diner in Montpeculiar after my adventure.

There was an article by Megan Smith in the Times Argus (Sunday, April 26 "Lets Keep Vermonters Working").  Megan obviously cares and is obviously struck by the seriousness and real effects that Vermont is feeling.  As are most people who breath.  So to me, in my pancake, here is the essence of the true problem facing us today...the lack of honest appraisal.

Honest Appraisal of the situation addressed in Megan's article:  Vermonters are losing jobs.
Megan's solution:  Government stimulation
Honest Translation:  Citizens of Vermont pay for other people to work.

TRUTH:  The government cannot stimulate anything because it doesn't produce anything.  The government, no matter what type, no matter what party, no matter what country, takes money from people.  It may do so at the behest of some and at the objection of others but the point remains that to say that the government can STIMULATE or CREATE is a falsity because the government can only take from those that have to give to those that have not.  It is vital, at this point, to remind the reader that it is not relevant whether or not government should or should not do this and that personal opinion interjected here is what I want to keep out of my pancake.  The point is simply that if we are going to go down this road...if people think the right thing to do is for an entity, government, to take the role of "creating" jobs and "stimulating" the economy we MUST call it what it is.  We must!  And what it is, is, government funneling money from one group to another.  We must start calling it this and THEN and only then decide if this is what we want.  But to call it something else, to lie to ourselves about it and our children is worse, in fact, is the worse thing we could do and will lead to no solution, in fact it will lead where all lies lead, to more deception.

2-Health care.
I have been seeing signs around Vermont lately and in newspapers.  The signs and adds remind me of what I believe are old communist propaganda posters.  They have the image of a strong women, holding a fist up high, with the furrowed brow and hair tied up, a working class type of hero.  The caption on the pics and the posters are:  HEALTH CARE IS A HUMAN RIGHT!  Here is another direct example of our larger problem....

Honest Appraisal:  Health care is out of reach of too many Vermonters
Proposed solution:  Make Health Care a Human Right!
Honest Translation:  Make slaves of some to provide for others.

TRUTH:  This one is right in your face.  And simple.  So clearly Honesty the people in charge of this "event" and this promotion are distraught at some infuriating and embarrassing statistics about health care in the US and the disproportionate connection between our "wealth" and the care (and health) of our people.  It doesn't make sense to many, myself included, that the "richest", most technologically advanced country on the earth would have such a measure of disease among the population.  However it is undeniable, no matter how a person FEELS, that if you were truly to MAKE HEALTH CARE A HUMAN RIGHT you would have to enslave people to do it.  Can you see it?  If health care is a human right then all humans have a right to it?  yes?  OK then if all people have a right to it...who is going to provide that right?  It is surely not like the water or the sun; health care at the level we expect it requires hundreds, thousands of hours of research, study, practice not to mention the generations and generations that have uncovered medical solutions that have led to other discoveries and other discoveries that have led to other solutions and on and on and on.  So who will provide this HUMAN right?  Will we tell the doctor they MUST go to school, they must work, they must provide this RIGHT?  Someone must provide this right, RIGHT?  To make something a HUMAN RIGHT, anything that must be provided by someone else, is slavery.  We must call it this.  We MUST call it this or as we search for the solutions for our children we will wander further and further from a true solution and not leave a solution for our kids but many, MANY more problems.  
NOTE:  This note applies to #1 and #3 as well as above and is like the vanilla in my pancake batter - it is not "truth" but my opinion based on truth.  We currently spend ????? how much, whatever the amount, it is staggering.  Could we do better with all that money?  is it even a question?  But still even though we can do better does not absolve us of the responsibility to talk HONESTLY about what it is we are trying to solve.

#3 - Credit Cards.
This, although not nearly as gripping or huge as Job Loss or Health care has a special place in our heart because of the rage and frustration felt when dealing with what seems like just a bunch of criminals, remember, MY Pancake...
Peter Welch has been a big proponent of capping credit card rates and dictating to these "private" businesses what they should or shouldn't do.

Honest Appraisal of the situation:  Credit card rates are variable, difficult to read and can be expensive.
Welch's solution:  Government intervention to achieve "fairness"
Honest Translation:  Government intervention in private business

TRUTH:  As Peter Schiff writes, credit cards are some of the riskiest businesses to be in.  Credit Card companies essentially give un-secured loans to people with little, no or poor credit.  I don't know statistics beyond my own but I know that credit cards have allowed me to finance ideas that other, more traditional sources wouldn't allow me.  Are credit card companies truly out to kill their customers?  Is that what they are trying to do?  It's an important question and the answer is simply NO.  Why would a credit card company want to destroy all it's relationships with it's customers.  Schiff writes that the companies are responding to the staggering defaults as a result from the wide economic damage that has been done.  If Welch succeeds in putting limits beyond transparency and justice for fraud on the credit card companies will most like stop lending to people who have no other ability to get credit and build credit history.  Who needs help here?  Can't a person, after seeing their rates increased by an unacceptable amount or their fees go up, simply cancel their card?  Why is government intervention needed?
NOTE:  This also applies to each of the three examples - consider this the chocolate chips - Often what I am finding is that the issues that are most personal to people, the ones that have the most emotional firepower are the issues that we are in the most dire need of rational non-emotional thinking.  In the case of credit card companies VS the government it is my opinion that in order to achieve the results we intend we must take the emotion out of it.  Whether or not CC companies are ethical, honest, greedy matters NOT.  What matters, what the essence of this issue and every issue is, IS, do you want the government, MEANING...YOU (cause it's your money) to solve the problem for you or do you want to solve it yourself.  That question and it's answer is FUNDAMENTAL to even beginning to have a meaningful discussion on possible solutions.

The pancake is bubbling, I just flipped it, the butter is ready, just a few more minutes...and while I am waiting...I am going to prepare my Vermont Maple Syrup and warm it up...see below...

There have been jobs, health care and credit long before government - why do we need government to help facilitate these things?  Is it because we have, somewhere along the way, given the right to government to take on these responsibilities, we have abdicated our own responsibility and now it is perfectly clear that government exists to create and solve problems of it's own doing like some insane hamster wheel, where WE THE PEOPLE are really the hamster.  The worse about it now is that many of those in government actually think that they hold the answer, when in truth all they hold is the ability to further complicate things and separate us from each other.  

Demand honesty in yourself and others, do not rely on a single soul to tell you the direction you SHOULD take.  Form your own opinions and learn why you are so angry and why, when there is no need, our problems today seem insurmountable?  They are not!  The answers we are all searching for are directly before us, but we have created a system that hides them with pomp and circumstance and then fuels the fire by setting us all up to argue with one another about the things that matter the least.  A WISE WISE man once told me..."Be careful what you ask for, you might just get it".  Well - I would say we have gotten EXACTLY what we have been asking for and I would say that we have the ability to continue to get EXACTLY what we ask for, it is right in front of us, but we must start asking DIFFERENT QUESTIONS.

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