Beyond the Cusp

December 18, 2016

Imagine the Return to a Revolutionary Ideal

 

Once upon a time there was the Black Robe Regiment which was the name given by the British to the Colonial Preachers who supported American independence. Not only did they preach independence, they very often were officers in the militias against the Red Coats. The British did all they could to murder these preachers and many gave their lives for the Revolution but the danger did not curtail the Black Robe Regiment preachers who refused to be cowed and were one of the main inspirations of the American revolution. Their sermons inspired and often their brash and brave actions kept the Revolution alive and brought a number of victories against the odds with their bravery and words motivating their fellow congregants often at the most crucial of moments. The United States owes much of the founding in the fighting and the religious basis of the Founding Fathers and the state legislators whose input and approvals were required in the formation of both the federation of America and then the Constitution which was the foundation for the United States of America. There is a possibility that the Revolution could have failed without the local inspiration and organization which was often centered around the churches and their Black Robe Regiment preachers.

 

Black Robe Regiment

Black Robe Regiment

 

All that changed in 1954 at the behest of Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson’s proposed legislation to amend the tax codes affecting houses of worship such as churches, synagogues, mosques, or temples and other nonprofit organizations with 501(c)(3) tax exemptions. The amended tax code limited the freedom of speech by members of organizations and entities who had tax exempt status under 501(c)(3) regulations making any political speech such as supporting a candidate, party or other specified political speech. The amendment to the tax codes was named for its presenter and is called the Johnson Amendment. Particularly prohibited was conducting political campaign activities to intervene in elections to public office or other sermonizing which may be perceived as backing a candidate or party. The language was vague and unspecific enough that many clergy were silenced from mentioning even certain Bible passages near election times as they might be construed as taking sides on a campaign issue and by doing so backing a particular candidate or party. Such brought to an end political preaching from the pulpit, at least in theory as some such still exists but as long as the parishioners are singing the same tune, nobody complains and such activity continues. This was specifically used to target and silence clergy from endorsing candidates. Over time this embargo on political speech became partisan in nature in too many locations as a ban against conservative politicking while backing leftist causes or progressive Democrat candidates. Still, care was taken to never mention any names and instead to often mimic campaign slogans working them into sermons or choosing verses carefully for recitation which would appear to back one candidate’s positions or damn the opposing candidate. Still, clergy still need be far more reserved and careful and a far cry from the history of clergy, especially when one remembers the Black Robe Regiment.

 

Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson

Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson

 

Should Donald Trump as president keep his word and successfully repeal the Johnson Amendment thus freeing certain tax exempt institutions and their personnel from conducting any political activities, especially campaigning or endorsing candidates, imagine the consequences. We would witness the liberation of the clergy and the resultant rebirth potentially of a new Black Robe regiment preaching and supporting political positions more aligned with their religious beliefs. There need be no great fears from secularists as they won’t be in houses of worship forced to hear any sermonizing, especially political sermonizing. Rescinding this regulation, expunging it from the tax code, would be a strike for freedom of speech. Placing a political muzzle on the clergy and threatening their tax exempt status was a bad idea from the start, one might even say criminal. But then Lyndon Baines Johnson was not exactly known for tact or freedom of expression for anybody disagreeing with his views. He was better known for strong-arming political rivals by any and all means at his disposal. This was most evident during his time as President which also served to allow his passing every piece of legislation which became the backbone of his “Great Society” and a remaking of the social safety net and the start of an increased welfare system. Some have blamed this for many societal problems being faced by American society currently. Just maybe a little moralizing before Election Day voting would serve as a positive influence. Just Maybe.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

July 2, 2016

The Real Reason for the European Union

 

Brexit is a great thing no matter what those experts on the left and right and in between are telling us. The entire political establishment is furious over the British vote against a unifying of Europe which eventually was to surrender to a unified world order. But that was not the reason the European Union was originally founded and nobody wants to talk about the real reasons behind the European Union (EU).

 

To figure out the real reasoning that formed the EU one needs to go back to the original concept and who were the nations pushing the hardest for an EU and who originally opposed it. The origins of the EU were formed and fashioned between Paris and Berlin, the two main engines to fuel the original EU. Britain was the original opposition and this was to be expected. What the EU was to be was the manner for Germany to finally conquer all of Europe this time instead of militarily to simply take over economically. The Euro was and remains most closely aligned with the German economy. It has little if anything to do with the more agrarian economies and was completely ignored until it became so dire that nobody could endure it any longer as the economic collapses of Spain and Greece and the near collapse of Italy and others signaled the depth the problem had reached. The EU did not take into its planning to any degree the needs of the former Soviet bloc Warsaw Pact nations when they entered the EU in near desperate need of massive infusions of funds to rebuild an infrastructure which was crumbling. Eventually some funding was made available and it was impressed as to how much Germany was sacrificing on their behalf. The assistance to Greece was another expression of German sacrifice and investment. Everything in the EU revolves around German economic power and its influence.

 

The EU really should have been named the Franco-Germanic Economic Empire. This has proven to be the preferred actions for the economic regulators in Brussels which ruled autocratically and approved actions unconscionable by any elected body elsewhere in the world. They overturned laws passed by elected parliaments and approved by the people but opposed by the controllers of this unelected hive mind of bureaucrats who decided they knew what was best more than the elected officials of member governments. The EU controlled trade relations and refused to allow member nations to make any trade deals or negotiate for mutual tariff relief with nations outside the EU. One example which will soon become very evident is now Britain will soon make deals with China, India, Brazil and others where they arrange to conduct free trade agreements, something Britain was barred from doing as a member of the EU because that would not be fair to other nations in the EU. This begs the question of why there was never an effort to have a free trade agreement between China and the EU. The reason is that Germany desired to have the advantage of free trade while blocking any competing nation entry into the German trade block which members of the EU were forced into by the bureaucrats who knew who paid their salaries and supported the main functions of the EU and would do anything and everything demanded to protect German trade relations and to increase the German trade advantage in Europe. With the Euro pegged to the German economy it further gave an advantage to German goods and services as the money used for trade was pegged to their goods and others who may have not quite matched German production paid the price.

 

It is kind of interesting that the EU headquarters was a stone’s throw from both Paris and Berlin, sitting in Brussels, Belgium which is sandwiched between Germany and France and has a history with both. That most nations in the EU were fully vested was in a manner their surrender to the economic drivers of the EU. The fact that the British also were a powerful economic nation, that their acceptance of the EU was conditional, and they kept their currency, the Pound Sterling, independent from the Euro and always available should things turn badly for the EU and Euro crash in value, Britain could fall back on their natural currency to continue to trade and deal with the rest of the world. That fall back will facilitate their departure making it all the easier. Still there are a number of hurdles which could still prevent Brexit from becoming a reality despite the vote by the people. The entire idea could still be presented to the parliament and they could decide that remaining in the EU is the wiser course and the Prime Minister, either Cameron or whoever replaces him after the elections could agree with the Parliament and that would be the end of Brexit so to speak. There is an even bet that the leaving of the EU could be brought before the Parliament as there are many politicians willing to oppose the popular vote and risk their, or enhance depending on their region and its electorate, seat in the coming elections.

 

Pound Sterling

Pound Sterling

 

One can bet that the many areas of Britain will vote their next election along the line of for or against Brexit and that Brexit will be the defining item in the minds of the people. The representatives of the London area and other major metropolises where the voters favored remaining in the EU will elect their parliament members accordingly. The more rural and suburban areas, where the people are somewhat more self-reliant, will vote for representatives who support independence from the EU, as they voted quite overwhelmingly, to the great surprise of almost every pollster and many of those predicting the failure of the Brexit proposition, to politely depart the EU. We are glad we supported Brexit for our British friends as we almost always will fall on the side of independence from bureaucratic dictatorial bodies, a.k.a. the European Union. Our best wishes to the British and we hope that others find their way clear of the overreaching arms of the Brussels Bureaucracy. Perhaps Brussels Bureaucracy, or the Double B, should have been the proper name for the EU as BB is even more simple an abbreviation and rolls off the tongue so much easier. Try it, BB or EU, EU sounds too close to something yucky, you know, ‘ew’ as an expression to an awful smell, rhymes with PU. Britain will hopefully be back dependent solely on the Pound Sterling and will soon arrange free trade with the China, Brazil, India and even United States, after President Obama exits office as he does not particularly like Britain as proven when he discarded the bust of Winston Churchill back to Britain as President Obama believes that the man who saved the world from Hitler was a despicable human being. If the British are seeking an honored place for that particular sculpture, we would love to give it a place of honor and show it off to our many British friends here in our little corner of the world. E-mail us if you are interested as we would be honored to have such a prized possession. To be able to say that we are hosting the bust of Winston Churchill that President Obama so ingloriously returned to Britain as a slap in the face and insult would make us prouder than a peacock in full plumage.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 5, 2016

Ancient Thoughts and the World Today

 

I read an e-mail article which listed what it claimed in its title to be “20 Quotes From Ancient Greek Philosophers That Liberals Still Don’t Understand” and four of these in particular got my brain reeling, drowning in swirling daydreams and thought perhaps it might be fun to share. I found myself gravitating to three philosophers where one was the most gifted student of the other and the other their sole peer. Below are the thoughts in decreasing order of relevance, or at least in ease of application and understanding. This dictates we tackle them in reverse order working from the sublime imperatives from which we then reach the inevitable brutal and undeniable truth.

 

“Republics decline into democracies and democracies

degenerate into despotisms.” – Aristotle

 

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs;

when he first appears he is a protector.” – Plato

 

“A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion,

a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.” — Socrates

 

“The curse of me and my nation is that we always think things can be bettered

by immediate action of some sort, any sort rather than no sort.” – Plato

 

 

Plato Socrates Aristotle

Plato Socrates Aristotle

 

That places our starting point with Plato and the concept, “The curse of me and my nation is that we always think things can be bettered by immediate action of some sort, any sort rather than no sort.” This is true in every government which depends on the opinions of the people discerned through an elective process. Be the system parliamentary, republic, direct democracy or other form where the voting public consists of eligibility of the greater part of the adult electorate and where promises gains votes those promises will come fast and loose. This will inevitably lead to greater and greater promises which will become more and more immediate often inventing problems and difficulties which are designed for easy quick solutions which can be readily enacted and implemented despite there being no reality to both the invented problem and an easy answer. Everything becomes something which requires an immediate solution and this demand continues to grow and now the people soon demand that even the greatest difficulties of the world be solved with the same brilliance, alacrity and without difficulty or complications. The expectations have become unrealistic but then when the people are demanding miracles, those who desire to hold office will make promises which they know cannot be solved with promises which they know will never be solved and only lead to greater problems as the half measures designed as quick actions which are definitive, definitive failures causing more and deeper problems. The demand for immediacy by the public eventually leads to the need for a savior.

 

That brings us to the next quote from Socrates which states, “A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.” This is where taking the false promises of charlatans who are the sole makers of empty promises selling them as definitive solutions to the most knotty and complex of problems starts us down a slippery slope. These have the ability to sell a framing of the problem in such a way that their solution appears obvious but nobody seems to think why if the solution which now appears so simple, easy and immediate that it did not appear for the last body of officials. Nobody wants to question whether the defining of the problem has been molded and crafted simply to facilitate the elevation of the individual and not done to reach a viable solution. These charlatans always play emotional weaknesses and know the desires of the people more than they understand the problems but emotionalism plays well, think Donald Trump with one difference, imagine Trump with a solution to the Middle East which is easy, immediate and apparently just hidden from view in such a way that only Trump could see it. Of course Donald Trump has not put forth such a solution and instead has simply sold that things will be great, trust Trump, great. Well, it is so completely different than Yes We Can. Both “Make America Great Again” and “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth” are empty boasts on which all problems can be put aside as the personality is sufficient to repair every problem. These set up a system of morality which is made of empty platitudes that caught the people up in an emotional defining of the world and choosing a leader purely on emotion which eventually leads to disappointment making the situation primed for the next step.

 

We go back to Plato where we read, “This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.” When the solutions are minimized such that false solutions become the norm, we reach a mire so deep that only a savior is believed to be the only possible solution. A person who is charismatic and has a plan, a plan that sweeps the public up with the promises, causes them to fall head over heels for the man with the plan which will heal their nation and restore it to greatness and return every glory which was once true and real. The savior and restorer of the greatness are seen as one who will revamp the government and streamline the process and accomplish that which formerly was not possible. The protector comes with promises if only you can and will trust what he knows must be executed to bring about the future promised by this protector. The promise is that once they are loosed from the restriction built into government and being freed from the tethers designed to limit and constrain government, but the savior cannot be constrained by such petty inconveniences. The releasing of the tethers and streamlining the methodology leads only one place, tyranny, and tyranny inevitably leads to one thing, despotic ruin.

 

This last revelation finished the slide defined so accurately by Aristotle who stated, “Republics decline into democracies and democracies degenerate into despotisms.” The Republic was seen as the finest form of governance no matter the style, be it direct elections, parliamentary or anything between or alongside where the people hold the power and the government has to respect the people’s power. With time the republic governance reaches a point where their society actually needs minimal government and definitely does not need any interventions, new laws, programs or anything else but the government has to find relevance in order to form promises around which will grant them the support of the people and result in their next election. This leads to demagoguery and populism which tend to bring an end to the slow and deliberate governance and replace it with governance which has a tendency to divide the populace into groups based on positions on issues, some real and some manufactured by the politicians themselves. Such governance works by promising larger groups of citizens benefits which will be paid for by smaller groups treasure, usually unwarranted wealth made by abusing the workers and these political riders of white horses topped with a wide brimmed white Stetson hat riding off into the sunset after collecting the votes of the masses. This results in a government which will end in bloated inefficiency where the promises have far outstripped revenue collection and has built a deficit which only grows along with the government. The collection institutions are inefficient often using half the collected wealth simply to finance their department making it obvious an impediment to balancing the budget as that cost is rarely figured into the formulas promoted by the political charlatans.

 

As noted above the situation reaches some critical point where the population is primed for a savior, the one who can return sanity and prosperous times. This promise keeps growing and as this savior has made some progress they start to complain how the government itself is preventing them from rescuing the society from itself. Slowly but surely they strip down the government taking over one layer after another until they no longer stand for reelection, their continued leadership has been accepted as permanent. Soon the other governing bodies are replaced with sycophants and lackeys making them simply the echoes of the dictator allowing for them to hold ultimate power and makes for efficiency in all operations which saves revenue which further permits the dictator to show success after success.

 

But even an all-powerful dictator runs into problems eventually as they too continue promising more and more until it becomes necessary to find new sources of revenues. This has historically led to wars which eventually make for the end of the rule of dictators as once they start to attack neighbors, the neighbors are likely to form alliances and end the spread and conquest of the dictator and after conquest the people may eventually make their way back to representative governance. The one rule is that the generation which falls and allows the rise of a demigod will not return to free governance with it more often taking many years, even centuries, before the people will be permitted to rule themselves. This is evident today as Europe and the Western world is slowly lurching its way down that well-worn path to ruin while developing nations have shown a sign of seeking to develop representative republic governance, what Aristotle, Plato and Socrates all believed was the most favorable form of governance.

 

Where on this merry-go-round your nation is can be figured simply by measuring the freedom each has as an individual and the size and scope of the governance. In all situations where the people are more powerful than the government and are capable of changing the entirety of their legislature and their leaders with regular elections, that would point to a society with a great deal of freedom and is a republic. With the power shared or favoring the government agencies over the people, then one is likely no longer in a republic but in a mere democracy, a good place from which an engaged population can turn things around. But if the governance is under a single person or small cabal which is unelected and not dependent on the approval of the people and rule as they wish, that is the final stop of a democracy where it dies and will not be reborn during the lifetime of any of its citizens, even any infants born during the year of the final elections, a meaningless election at that.

 

That is both the end of freedom and the start of the path back to liberty, freedom and the rights of man. The unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of humankind has never known freedom or even truly elected governance and probably never will. For this majority of the planet will require great expenditures by the free world to instruct, educate, form and develop the basics, principles and understanding of the mechanisms required. After the entire world finds itself on the merry-go-round where we slide from freedom to despotism and finally revolution and a return to republic and the new optimism which will eventually end in disappointment until humankind learns to control their appetites and refuse to follow demigods who promise perfection and untold riches and joys, delivering none of them and few promises being realized. Perhaps that is our fate or maybe we will eventually learn to control our slide of our own personal weaknesses. Perhaps we will learn and our species finally break free of petty differences, greed and acting in a manner which eventually leads to our subjugation when our greed outpaces our good sense. Perhaps.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.