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We the People

The Place of Government

“Government can do certain things very well, but it cannot put hope in our hearts or a sense of purpose in our lives.”

I like that one. Sums it up nicely. There are undoubtedly some things that the government – any government – can do well. Very well even. But it cannot do everything. What I don’t get is why people (okay, politicians) continue to insist that government can solve all problems.

Read that again. Government cannot give us hope. It cannot give us a sense of purpose. I agree with these things wholeheartedly. Government is welcome to do what they do well, but those things ought to be in the background.

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We the People

Voting is a Challenge

This year sure seems to be having its problems with voting. There are those in the Carolinas who are finding out their email requests to receive absentee ballots weren’t valid. Nevermind that the request was sent via a link on the board of elections page saying that it was allowed. Someone in Pennsylvania is having a similar problem with their abesntee ballot that went missing in the mail.

Tell me, please, why our country has so much difficulty with the concept of elections? Home to some of the largest technology companies in the world (arguably the largest, but many of them are international), home to companies that produce not only hardware but software, surely someone someplace could figure this out. Is it really so difficult?

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We the People

Find Your Own Security

“Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, Bush or al-Qaida. Your security is in your own hands.”

I’ve been saying that for three years. It is simply not the responsibility of the government to protect us in every circumstance. There will be events that are not foreseen, and there will be times when we must face the truth that the world we live in isn’t always pretty and there may be difficult choices for us to make regarding those truths. No matter how hard they try to worm their way into every facet of our lives, there will be times when the government isn’t around to offer their “help”.

The varied departments of the government don’t do one thing to make me feel secure, much less offer me any actual security. When someone is committed to their cause, it doesn’t matter if they are carrying a knife, a box opener, a corkscrew or a pointy nail file. Serious damage can be done with something as mundane as a ring of keys or a ball-point pen, yet they don’t (yet) prevent you from carrying these things on board with you. It’s simply ridiculous to think that they can throw more and more legislation at the problem, remove more and more liberties in the process, and think that it will all just go away.

The quote? That was Osama bin Laden, though I suspect that he may have meant it a little differently than I do.

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We the People

Expand Your Voting Window

In North Carolina, we have “no excuse” early voting. Essentially it means that we have a time period (I think it’s a couple weeks) prior to election day, and at any time during that time period, we can go in and vote, no questions asked. This year, somewhere around 1 million people have used the system.

Frankly, I think it’s cool. Why in the world would we want to strap ourselves to the single-day method? It’s not like there’s anything special about the first Tuesday in November, and if someone decides that there is, how about ending the two-week period on that day? If nothing else, it should save schools from having to schedule teacher workdays to handle everyone’s voting on a single day. It should also greatly reduce stress on any counting of the votes. They could even be reviewed in that time.

Of course, one worry would be the condition of the voter. Namely, if you have a couple weeks to vote, what happens if you cast a vote a week before they votes are tallied, and then die? Hey, it could happen. It has happened. I’m sure it happens more frequently than we might suspect. But the same thing could happen in a single-day voting period. There are going to be people who vote on the way to work in the morning and get in a wreck on their way home in the afternoon.

I can’t imagine that this number is statistically significant.

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We the People

Eight More Days

Okay, at least eight more days. If it’s like the last time, we might be in for weeks more – but at least the advertising bonanza ought to be over in eight more days. I’m sure they will start up again in the next year or so, as then we’ll only have three more years to make our next decision, but any break is a welcome one.

I have to say that I agree with Les – something I do from time to time, but not always. In this case, I couldn’t agree more: Just get it over with already. The mailbox is full of advertisements. Even the regular commercials on TV are worth watching simply because they are not political advertisements.

However, I have no idea who – or even which party – is doing more of the advertising because I don’t pay attention to the stuff in the mail (it goes straight to the recycle bin). I don’t pay (much) attention to the stuff on TV. I do watch for entertainment from time to time.

For instance, Beverly Perdue is running for vice governor or assistant governor or lieutenant governor or something like that. Why don’t politicians vote themselves better titles? Anyway. Ms. Perdue plays on her name and has people dancing around like chickens. I have absolutely no idea what issue that represents, if she is in any way related to the Perdue organization or why I’d vote for her because of it, but it’s pretty funny. Maybe it will just help with name recognition.

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We the People

Bitch Slap for President

So Teresa Heinz Kerry (is that hyphenated?) has apologized publicly for her comment about Laura Bush.

Yippee.

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We the People

Give Me Liberty

I found it interesting that during the debate last night, Dubya mentioned the “L” word. Sorry, pervs, not that “L” word. The other one. Liberty. It is really an excellent word, isn’t it? I was just surprised to hear it from those lips. There are several definitions of the word liberty that simply do not mesh with the idea of our government today. Take a look:

  • Freedom from unjust or undue governmental control.
  • The condition of being free from restriction or control.
  • The right and power to act, believe, or express oneself in a manner of one’s own choosing.
  • The condition of being physically and legally free from confinement, servitude, or forced labor.
  • A right or immunity to engage in certain actions without control or interference.

The power of liberty. Not just being able to vote, or decide what job to hold, but simply being free of outside control and able to pursue our own ends. This may seem akin to anarchy for some, until you realize that in order for you to have liberty, you have to be free from my control as well. If I want that choice, I must make sure that you will have it too.

Our government has decided that they know best. Countless times last night we were told how the government needs to do this or the government needs to do that. Why? Why does the government have to protect us, and in so doing, take away our liberties? Is it really worth feeling safe, if in so doing, we have lost what we cherished?

Terrorists provide one thing: Terror. A fear that is meant to paralyze us and make our life more like theirs. That is exactly what is happening. I am sorry for the lives that have been lost in this fight, no matter where the lives were lost or which side lost them. What I don’t get is why we are so fired up to give up the liberties that make us who we are, and make our lives more like those we fear. If we do that, they have already won.

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We the People

Non-Stop Lawmaking

Okay, I realize that the congress really isn’t non-stop. They take breaks like the rest of us. Heck, they probably take more breaks than the rest of us. But let’s think about it for just a minute: Congress has existed, generally speaking, for nearly two-and-a-half centuries. Is the world so messed up that we really need full-time lawmaking, even after nearly two hundred and fifty years? Why not change things around and have congress actually work for a living?

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We the People

Freedom of Choice

It seems that the governor of Illinois is planning to do more digging in the can of worms that is the prescription drug trade. By trade, I simply mean the process for getting the drugs to people who need them – not that he is involved in drug trafficking or anything. Though due to the vagaries of the way search engines interpret things, I’ll bet that a search for Illinois governor drug trafficking in the near future will bring you to this page. Heh. Guess that particular technology isn’t perfect yet.

In any case, someone (it may have been the governor himself) was on a morning news show this morning. Sorry, I don’t know which one. I think it was CBS, but I’m not really sure. I don’t pay too much attention to the TV, and just happened to hear what was being said.

To summarize: The drugs are apparently the same drugs that are sold in the US, manufactured by the same people who make those drugs. Sounds good. If they can be had cheaper, why not get them?

There was a comment about terrorism, but I don’t buy it. Terrorism itself is a very valid concern. It may one day even include issues such as this. But terrorism as it exists today, and has for a long time in other parts of the world, has rarely (if ever) had anything to do with things of this nature. Bombs and the like are typically much more terrifying, and in most places of the world take a whole lot less effort to implement than taking over a supply chain. Terrorists supplying fake medicine will also only terrorize those who take prescription medicine, and a decent percentage of the population don’t (on a regular basis anyway). Heck, many people now don’t because they can’t afford it. Isn’t that a concern?

Don’t get me wrong: The concern about fake prescription drugs sounded valid, but he had an answer for that too: People looking for drugs at a cheaper price are likely to get knock-off drugs in this country if they can’t get them elsewhere. According to this person, this is the only type of case that the FDA has seen thus far. That will surely increase, but is nonetheless a valid point. People in the US are probably more likely to have access to fake-drug-making equipment than those in other countries. I just think it’s more likely to be people bottling whatever they can to make a quick buck than it is to be terrorists.

I also recall reading about the ability to choose regulation. I’ve written about it (actually about drugs too), but that’s not what I’m talking about. I read in a book once that regulation itself isn’t inherently bad. It’s forced regulation that is a problem. If I don’t have a choice but to purchase “approved” products, I’m really not free to do as I please. But if I’m free to purchase any product, the approved ones happen to come with a better pedigree and I choose to pay a bit more for the regulated product, so be it. That’s my choice. I can just as easily choose a non-regulated product.

I am free to make the choices I like. If I choose to buy non-approved cereal (for instance) and then turn around and purchase regulated medicine, I’ll be able to do so. But making every product undergo regulation means I don’t have that freedom, and that stinks.

My final thought is that the other countries apparently have lower prices beceause the governments of those countries enforce price controls. Not sure I really like this either – if the countries are paying a part of the cost of the drug, then it’s no better than some of the subsidies we have here. But if they simply regulate the cost and the companies have to bear it? I’m not necessarily against that: Except as it means that we have to pay more to make up the cost.

I have an idea: Why in the world can we not just adopt a system that allows those who use services to pay for them?

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We the People

What About Taxes?

Another batch of statistics is out – this one showing the percentage of our income that goes to different expenses. What I don’t get is why the government can leave out the largest expenditure that any of us are likely to have – taxes.

In the last year, approximately 10% of our spending went to the home. This includes the mortgage as well as home improvements, maintenance and the like. This is well below the average in the chart you’ll see above, and that’s okay – but it is easily our largest single category of spending. Except taxes. They rang up a whopping 26% of our spending last year.

Please note that this is slightly different from the chart that I linked above. That chart considers expenditures as a part of income. I didn’t do that. I just used the amount that we spent, as that seems to me to be a more appropriate measure. But I find it terribly convenient that the government study leaves out taxes entirely, even though that expense accounts for a quarter of what we spend in a year.

Update: True, we don’t generally spend much for taxes. That’s not possible because we never actually receive most of the money that we pay in taxes. Instead, the government introduced withholding – by which they get the money withheld from your paycheck so you never even notice that it’s gone.