Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Lower Classes and the Empty Souls of the Wealthy Political Class: How living among poverty has shaped my views.

I have lived much of my life among the lower classes. I grew up in a lower middle class home. I have spent hours in the poorest neighborhoods in my city. I also lived in Uruguay and visited many homes that were literally made from garbage, the poorest of the poor. 

Many of those around whom I have worked and lived are strong advocates of government welfare programs. I have walked into the homes of an immigrant family with multiple people living in it, and their only income is from government programs. Many of those I visit get their food from food-stamps. In many cases their homes or apartments are subsidized. Government aide is omnipresent when among the less-privileged areas of society. 

Because of this, I can see why many who work with them would be for these government programs. After visiting the poor and seeing the exuberant wealth of others in society, I get why people rage against the wealthy and against those that do not support government programs. I understand that. I understand why someone would vote into office based on their claim to support these programs. 

People assume I am also for government welfare when I am among them. When I tell them I am not they assume it is despite my time spent with the poor. This is not true. I am against government programs because of my time spent among the under-privileged.

The government does not help the poor. There I said it. What the government does is rob the poor blind, limit their economic ability, and then throw them a handful of change back and say, “See we are helping you.” If you break someones leg and then hand them a crutch, you can hardly be praised for "curing" them.

First, giving someone money is not helping them necessarily. If only it were that easy. Helping is talking to someone, finding out where they are trying to go and life, and see what you can do to help them get from point A to point B. This could of course involve monetary assistance. It could involve a hundred million things. But to say that you are helping the poor by signing a piece of paper and then taking money from one group and giving it to another is absurdly and profoundly flawed.

Government aide does not help the poor. Ever since the “war on poverty” began under Lyndon Johnson’s "Great Society," poverty has remained stagnant, while it had been steadily decreasing before.

But even if we assume throwing money at the poor helps them, and government programs actually do benefit the poor,  the idea that government protects the little guy at the expense of the wealthy is absurd. The reality is all the opposite, the government protects the wealthy and politically connected at the expense of everybody else. 

Most of the money the government spends is not given to the poor. It is spent on military, on corporate welfare, paying off debts, and on employing a lot of wealthy middle class bureaucrats that run the system (i.e clerks, IRS workers, welfare agents, etc.). In other words to pay politician's friends. Almost all congressman and senators (Republican and Democrat) are heavily funded by big business. Many of the senators or their aides have sat or currently sit on the boards of large corporations. To think the government is “protecting us from corporations” is absurd. The government is a giant cartel of the big banks, big business, and big labor. Barack Obama was paid millions of dollars from Wall Street to get elected. Is it honestly possible to think he will turn around and hurt the big banks in order to help the poor? 

If Congress members were seated according to who gave them the most money. From Dave Gilson,
The government hurts the poor in multiple ways. First, licensing, fees, and other barriers to entry the government sets up. It is in the wealthy class’s best interest to protect itself from the young and poor, because the young and poor are often motivated, ambitious, and eager to pull themselves out of poverty.  What is more they will generally charge less for services. This is why professionals run to the government to get them to create all sorts of licensing and tests that increase the amount of time it takes to enter a given profession, therefore decreasing supply of their product and allowing them to artificially inflate their prices. The original “healthcare crisis” was that healthcare costs were too low so doctors went to the government to create licenses and other  barriers to entry to decrease supply and increase prices. A personal example is a mechanic my family knows who is a great mechanic but because of business license fees and zoning rules do not allow him to operate a mechanic’s shop from his house, he instead works at McDonald's. 

The government is constantly taking money from the poor through taxes (i.e. sales tax), and most insidiously through inflation. The wages of the poor drop because the government is printing money and giving it to the wealthy and politically connected. Inflating the currency always happens at the expense of the poor who now can buy less with their dollars than they did a year ago, or even a month ago. While the minimum wage used to fill up a tank of gas perhaps with some extra to buy a soda, now it is barely enough to get the car out of the parking lot.  

Big government is robbing the poor blind. They are limiting their opportunities for growth by throwing up barriers to entry for business and limiting the growth of business through regulation. The government mortgages the lives of the poor through national debt. The government takes money from the poor to hand out all sorts of goodies to their wealthy friends, lobbyists, and banksters. The government is constantly financially raping the poor and then they throw the poor a chunk of change and say “without me you would die.”

This is disgusting. This is wrong. I cannot and will not support this evil system.

I love being among the poorer classes. I love siting in their humble homes and talking with them, learning from them. I know they are strong and capable of rising to their dreams and aspirations if the government would just get out of the way.

The truth is they are not poor, in money perhaps, but not in character and love and honesty. The only poor I see are the hearts of those men who take money from poor and middle class, give most of it out to their friends, throw a little bit back, and have the audacity to call it charity. Those are poor, empty souls.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Racist, a Tyrant, a President: Lessons from President Lincoln

 Hero or Tyrant?

Today we celebrate the lives of those men that hold the highest political office of the land. Unfortunately there is little to celebrate about any of these men. They have done little of good and much evil. Some may disagree with this thesis, but I submit they are not looking at the reality of the situation. Recent presidents are easy targets. Obama and Bush have spied on most everyone and dropped bombs on innocent people in Yemen, Pakistan, and Iraq. It is some of the presidents further back who tend to have a larger illusions of grandeur. In particular, Abraham Lincoln.

Often in polls President Lincoln comes out as the favorite or “best” president. Lots of people think of him as a “founding father” even though at the time of the American Revolution he was still 30 years from being a twinkle in his mother’s eye.  He is praised because he “freed the slaves” and “liberated the south.” Not only is this not true, it is almost the opposite of true. Abraham Lincoln was a racist tyrant, who let power corrupt him, as it inevitably does.

Before I delve further, let me say that this article is in no way a promotion of slavery or even the south and the confederacy. Slavery is an incredibly evil system and wrong. What this article is about is the cult of Abraham Lincoln which is both misinformed and harmful.
To start, let us consider a few examples. A group of boys are building sandcastles. There are multiple groups of boys all working on different sandcastle. They decide to all get together and put all their sandcastles in an unified system with one giant sandcastle in the middle. One boy is chosen to be the “head engineer” of the project.

After some time, one group of boys decides they do not like how the giant sandcastle project is going and disconnect theirs from the group, focusing on their own once more. What would be the correct action of the “head engineer”? Get a stick and beat the boys who do not want to work with them until they cooperate? Of course not, no parents would promote that. The correct thing would maybe be talk to them and try to reason with them. So why when we change sandcastles for government, attacking, sending armies and guns suddenly becomes okay?

This is exactly what Abraham Lincoln did. He was the leader of this group of sandcastles that were united under the constitution. The government of South Carolina felt the U.S. government had breached the contract, so they hopped out. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. If you make a contract with someone and they don’t uphold it, you are under no obligation to stay in that contract. This is common law.

If you offer a subscription service and you stop delivering magazines or whatever you sell, you cannot go to that person’s house and stick a gun at their head and tell them they have to keep paying. If you did, everyone would recognize that as wrong and evil. Yet when Abraham Lincoln does just that, sending armies, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to keep power and force people into his contract, he for some reason is praised as a hero. This is incredibly wrong and destructive.

The war was not over slavery. Period. The notion is somewhat ridiculous. Slavery was legal and practiced in the north. To say that Abraham Lincoln attacked the South to end slavery is so ridiculous it is laughable. This would be equivalent to if California decided to leave the union today and the U.S. government deployed an army to bring them back and then saying it is a war to end pornography because California produces pornography. That is absurd because Pornography is legally produced in many states, to say the government is attacking California to end pornography after it leaves the union is clearly manipulation. The government is attacking them to maintain power over them, to continue bringing in their tax revenue. It has nothing to do with morality. The same was the case with the North. They attacked to maintain power. That is all.

“I have no purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”  -Abraham Lincoln before the southern rebellion.

“But Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves!” say many.  No he did not. After a year into the war the north was weary of killing people, often their own family. They were tired of having to pay taxes to fund a war effort. As is the case with all wars, the leaders deceive the public to get them to follow their cause, but when the reality of the war hits, along with its shear, disgusting immorality, the public wants out. People generally do not want to fund the bloody ambitions of tyrants. So what do tyrants do? They search for a moral rallying cry. People do not want to die for power, but they will for justice and virtue.

At this time is when the idea of The Emancipation Proclamation came up. It “freed the slaves” in the South. Interestingly, only in the South, a place that Abraham Lincoln had no control over. However in the areas where he was president, i.e. the north, slavery was still legal. This of course was to not upset the slave-dependent people in the north, while at the same time rallying people to his cause in the name of “ending slavery.” To go back to the pornography example, this would be equivalent to California leaving the union, Barack Obama sending an army to “bring them back” and then when support was waning for his war, sending out a decree that made pornography illegal in California, and so we are fighting to end Pornography! Then what would happen? Pornography producers in New York and Texas would say, “well what about us?” to which Obama would say, “oh no, your fine, just give me your income tax.” Well then clearly the war is not about pornography and Obama no more ended pornography than I have ended taxation. Anyone can see this. Yet Lincoln somehow gets a pass. He is a hero for doing just that. The truth is Lincoln was racist tyrant and cared no more for enslaved blacks than he cared for the shoes on his foot. During the election campaign he said this, “I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.” He only issued the Emancipation as a political shenanigan to get people to keep giving him money and to keep sending their children to be killed. That is horrendously evil. And yet this man is praised as a hero.

There is plenty more to explore on the evils of Abraham Lincoln, this is just the surface, and I have not gone into much detail, however if you are interested there is plenty more out there, Thomas DiLorenzo’s How Capitalism Saved America and The Real Lincoln are both pretty brutal exposés of a man we have been taught to revere. Similarly The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War also show sides of the civil war that are generally ignored. But I want to say detail is not needed. We do not need to know the details of Napoleon’s life to know he was not the best guy. Any person that sends men to their deaths to further his own power cannot in my mind be considered a hero or a good guy.  Case closed. But let us just go a bit further to look at some of the results of Lincoln.

The United States is the only country in the Western world that ended slavery with a war. In Brazil they just stopped doing it. Slavery was dying off. However some say that slavery would not have ended, and only Lincoln’s war made it go away, that it paved the way to the 13th amendment that ended slavery. I disagree. Slavery did not really even end.  Black’s in the south were not treated as equals for over 100 years after the war. Some argue that still they are not treated as equals. The result of the Civil war was not emancipation. It was over 100 years of inequality and horrible treatment of blacks based on color of skin.

The greater lesson from Abraham Lincoln is that violence does not end a system of violence. However you try to force it to end with however many guns you have, violence does not end violence. “For never here / Do hatreds cease by hatred. / By freedom from hatred they cease: /This is a perennial truth.” The Buddha declared this hundreds of years ago, and western culture still has not learned it. Violence and force do not change people. Shooting guns and brandishing weapons does not change people, it only kills then or makes them angry and more determined. “So how could society have ended slavery?” The same way it did in the rest the world, the same way we get people to change in our everyday interactions. When we disagree with someone we do not pull out a gun and tell them they have to agree with us. Of course not, that would be crazy. We reason, we attempt to show the superior logic, or most importantly we live in a way that shows the superiority of our ideas. The same thing happened for slavery in the rest of the world. People just stopped doing it. They recognized it was wrong. They stopped buying slave-made products. If no one is buying your product, you go out of business pretty quick. You stop trading in slaves, you stop associating with people who are in anyway associated with slavery. That is how you end slavery. No pressure is more powerful than social pressure.

If we want to change the world, we must change ourselves. No number of guns will do it, even if your name is Abraham Lincoln.