The State of the Navy

Many people have been talking recently about a new report commissioned by several veteran congresspeople including Tom Cotton and my personal favorite vet in office, Dan Crenshaw:

Concern within the Navy runs so high that, when asked whether incidents such as the two destroyer collisions in the Pacific, the surrender of a small craft to the IRGC in the Arabian Gulf, the burning of the Bonhomme Richard and other incidents were part of a broader cultural or leadership problem in the Navy, 94% of interviewees responded “yes,” 3% said “no,” and 3% said “unsure.” And when asked if the incidents were directly connected, 55% said “yes,” 16% said “no,” and 29% said “unsure.” This sentiment, that the Navy is dangerously off course, was overwhelming.

I have serious doubts as to the veracity of this “study” for two reasons:

Polls are notorious for being easily manipulated. Pollsters can handily get the answers they’re looking for by wording the questions in the right way.

For example, a poll that asks:

“Do you support the loophole that allows criminals to purchase firearms from unlicensed dealers without undergoing a background check?”

Will get entirely different results from a poll asking the exact same people:

“Should private citizens be required to seek permission from the government before being permitted to sell their personally owned property to other private citizens?”

The questions are asking the same thing, just in dramatically different ways and will result in completely different data.

The second issue I have with the “study” is the number of personnel interviewed.

77 unique and formal interviews were conducted with Navy personnel via an extensive hour-long process to establish a common controlled approach to the questions at hand.

Seriously? 77 people to represent the outlook of the entire US Navy? There are many different “communities” within the Navy, and although they all fall under the basic framework of the UCMJ and Naval Regulations, the different communities have vastly different cultures. The surface navy vs submarine navy. Black shoes (ship’s company) vs Brown shoes (aviation community). Small boys (destroyers, frigates, cruisers) vs flattops (aircraft carriers). Then there are the specialties that have unique roles like the Seabees, the SEALs, EOD, etc. There are even cultural difference between the East Coast Navy and the West Coast Navy, between the individual fleets and between different ships, even different ships of the same class.

I wouldn’t trust a poll of 77 people to be representative of the crew of a fully manned aircraft carrier (approx 5,000 people), let alone the entire Navy of 330,000+.

So, I don’t think this “study” should be touted as the definitive statement of the attitude of all Sailors. This is very likely just another exercise in confirmation bias. Conducting interviews with too small a sample to be truly representative and wording interview questions in such a way as to receive a desired response.

With that said…

Just because the “study” framework and execution raises questions in my mind, doesn’t mean the attitude they were trying to confirm isn’t real. Whether the majority of sailors are aware of it, or will admit it, the Navy of today is in a very sad state.

This started well before I retired. The members of any military unit’s very survival depends on the skills and abilities of each of those members in their assigned duties. When such an organization begins to place more emphasis on retaining and promoting individuals based on any criteria other than merit, that organization’s effectiveness is going to suffer. Those policies were in place long before I joined the Navy in the early ’80’s and did nothing but get worse throughout my tenure. Those policies have done nothing but escalate in the 18 years since my retirement.

Additional policies include the softening of standards and requirements, the dumbing down of training and qualification standards, the elimination of longstanding trust building and team building traditions, the overt rewarding of timidity and risk aversion over boldness and warfighting ability, the incessant harping and “training” on social issues leaving little time for training designed to enhance mission capability. I could go on.

The result of decades of senior leadership promoted on the basis of their political acumen and ability to avoid controversy rather than any leadership or warfighting skills has ultimately resulted in a Navy where ships crash into civilian freighters, small boat crews who instantly surrender to third world rabble when challenged, ships in the shipyard burning to the waterline because the crew is unequipped and unable to perform the single most important function for the survival of any Navy vessel: damage control.

Not to mention an entire new class of highly technological, extremely expensive ships that serve no practical purpose, a new generation of Aircraft Carriers that can’t effectively launch or recover aircraft due to the incorporation of unproven, unreliable (also extremely expensive) technology, and a remaining fleet of overtasked, undermaintained ships that the crews struggle to keep marginally operational.

We may still have the largest, most technologically advanced Navy in the world (for now, China is rapidly gaining and will soon overtake us), and the most highly motivated, creative and dedicated sailors in history, but our Naval capability has been hamstrung by multiple generations of poor leadership and misplaced priorities, with no signs of improvement on the horizon.

And I don’t need a weak “study” of the attitudes of sailors to tell me that.

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Revelations

I haven’t posted in a few days…I was actually out of town.

My Aunt Ann passed away on the 3rd and I went home for her funeral. I’ve actually lived in my current location for much longer than I lived in Indiana where I grew up, but I still consider myself a Hoosier at heart and consider central Indiana home.

Anyway, I went home for my Aunt Ann’s funeral. She was 83, a good god-fearing woman, a schoolteacher, wife of 61 years and mother of four. She had a rough last year so it’s good that she’s at peace and with God. Uncle Bill, her husband and my Dad’s brother, is also not doing well and I fear he won’t be long behind her. My Dad had 9 siblings, of which only 4 remain.

At any rate, while at the funeral, I found out a couple of things about my Dad that I thought I’d mention for posterity.

First, during the funeral, my Mom spoke. She related how, as a young college student at Marion College (now called Virginia Wesleyan University), her roommate and best friend Ann had invited her to go home to Sheridan with her over a weekend. Once they got there, Ann had a date with her boyfriend Bill, Ann didn’t want to leave Mom out, so she told her that Bill had a brother and asked my Mom if she’d be willing to go with Bill’s brother as her date.

Mom said she’d never been on a blind date before so she was a bit reluctant but, for her friend, she agreed. That’s where she met Ray, my father. If it hadn’t been for Aunt Ann, I’d have never existed. I owe her my life and I never even knew it.

To be fair, I’m sure at some point or another I’d heard that story before, but I hadn’t remembered it. I’m glad for the reminder.

The other thing I found out just by accident. I remember my Dad having a private pilot’s license when I was young. A few times, Dad would rent a little Cessna or Piper from the local grass strip airport and we’d fly around and look at the county with a bird’s eye view. I always thought that was the coolest thing. It eventually got too expensive and he let his license lapse, but those are some good memories.

What I didn’t know, and what I found out, is that my Dad had actually gotten his pilot’s license while he was in high school. He and a friend, right after high school, went in together and bought a small plane that they hangered and flew out of the tiny Sheridan airport. Mom said that after they met, he would occasionally fly to Marion from Sheridan to meet with her and go on dates.

When he was drafted into the army in 1956, he sold his interest in the plane and he and Mom got married. He still flew enough to keep his license active up until the early 1970’s, but I never knew he’d started so young or owned (half) a plane.

I know they’re not earth shattering discoveries or anything like that, but they’re just little tidbits that bring my Father’s life just a little bit more in focus. He wasn’t one to talk much about himself so although I know the broad strokes of his life, it’s the little details that are missing so when I get some of those from someone else, it fills in a little blank spot and brings him just a bit more to life for me. These are the kinds of little details that, when Mom and I are talking about him, don’t normally come out unless something specific in the conversation sparks the memory.

I need to have more conversations like that with her. If I find out any more little tidbits, I’ll write them here as well so hopefully, these stories won’t all be lost to time.

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Licensing is often nothing more than protectionism

I consider myself a libertarian leaning conservative.  There are several issues I disagree with libertarians on, but this is one area where I’m with them.

Most professional licensing schemes, under the guise of “protecting the public” are actually doing no more than protecting the current practitioners in the industry from competition.

They place another roadblock in the way of entrepreneurs who just want to try to make a living doing something they know how to do. Maybe hairdressing started out as a hobby, they discovered they were good at it and want to try to make it a career…not without hundreds of hours of mandatory training and paying often exorbitant licensing fees. And if they ply their trade without the license and are caught, end up facing the full fury of the government’s legal system. Fines, court costs, possibly even jail time.

I get the concept of “protecting the public” from people who hang a shingle but don’t have any idea what they’re doing, but the free market can take care of that just as easily, more efficiently and without all the heavy-handed government involvement.

Industries that want to have standard minimum requirements for entry can do so, they just have to convince people of the importance of that certification. The PHCC can create standards and certifications and then advertise that you should really only hire plumbers with PHCC certification.

If I’m an amateur plumber, I lose my day job and decide to go into that field to put food on the table, I should be able to hang my shingle. I can’t claim PHCC certification because I don’t have it, but if people are willing to hire me anyway, that’s between me and the people who hire me. There’s a good chance that my prices are going to be lower than “certified” plumbers. My customers get lower prices and I get to buy bread and milk this week. Win-win.

But by getting the government involved and making it illegal for me to operate, the currently certified plumbers are protected from competition and I have to go on food stamps. How is that beneficial to society?

Yes, it’s possible I could be a lousy plumber, but especially in this day and age of instant communication and Yelp reviews, my business wouldn’t last long. And that would only help to bolster the PHCC contention that you should only hire certified plumbers. No need to get the law involved.

That’s just an example. Unfortunately, no one I’m aware of is recommending the elimination of plumbing certifications and such…but at least one city is figuring it out.

Tuesday, the OKC mayor and city council got rid of 16 of the city’s 19 occupational licenses, calling them a form of government overreach.

“They were more just a nuisance. They were not justified,” said Mayor David Holt, who wrote the ordinance.

Holt said it lessens the burden on entrepreneurs.

Good on them. Don’t place unnecessary roadblocks in the path of people who are doing nothing more than trying to make a living. That’s the kind of thing we should be encouraging, not discouraging.

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Taxing the rich to enslave the poor

It probably shouldn’t given the current educational environment, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people simply don’t Grok basic, common sense, time tested economic principles.

For example: Capital Gains taxes tax the profits on investments. Generally, those investments take the form of stock purchases and sales.

What is stock? It’s a tiny slice of ownership of a company.

People buy things when they perceive a potential benefit to the purchase. When someone buys a stock it’s because they believe the company has value and they will reap benefits from owning a tiny piece of it. Those benefits can come from dividends paid out (the company dividing up the year’s profits amongst the owners) or from increase of the company’s value which raises share prices.

When the potential profits from such investments are reduced, what, pray tell, do you imagine happens to the investments?

If you said “they decrease” you get an “A” on your basic economics quiz for today.

When the investments decrease, companies don’t have the capital needed to expand. I work for a company that sells large scale fleet products and software. The way it works, a potential customer asks for bids. We place a bid. If we win the bid we get the contract. At that point we have to start purchasing the physical resources and expending the man-hours needed to fulfill the contract. Note, we haven’t received a penny of money yet, but we’re already spending loads in production of the product.

How do we have the money to start the work before ever receiving a red cent? Either profits from previous completed contracts, or from investments.

So, what happens to companies when investment slows? They have less revenue with which to get going. The biggest expense for any company in the (free) world is payroll. Guess what that means: Fewer employees…i.e. fewer jobs.

Do you think it’s going to be CEOs and CFOs and COOs that lose their jobs as a result? Not on your life. It’s going to be the people working the production floor. So, is increasing the capital gains tax really going to impact the rich? Or is it going to impact the middle class as well as the upward mobility of the poor?

Let’s go a little deeper: For brand new companies known as “startups”, the ONLY source of the revenue they need to get things up and running is investments. We’ve already discovered that increases of the capital gains tax will decrease investments, so, since that’s the only source of revenue for startups, what does that mean? Does that mean that the chances of a startup company succeeding are better or worse? If you said “worse”, you get an “A” on your second basic economics quiz for the day.

So…whom does that benefit? It certainly doesn’t benefit the startup businesses or the entrepreneurs that start them. It certainly doesn’t benefit the people who were hired by the startups that fail, or were hoping for jobs with startups that never get off the ground. So, who benefits? Existing companies that would have had to compete with the startups. Big Business benefits.

Why do you think that big companies are often on the left when it comes to taxation…especially business taxes like capital gains taxes.

Established businesses have existing production lines and cash reserves and longstanding customers and established revenue streams that can help them offset any losses of investment income. They also have armies of lobbyists that basically bribe congress into creating loopholes in the laws and armies of lawyers to help them in exploiting those loopholes to avoid paying the taxes themselves.

Do you really think the US tax code is a complex and confusing as it is because it NEEDS to be? Or because someone profits from it being that way (some of which profits trickle down to the people who author those confusing laws and regulations)?

Anyway, that’s just a long way of saying that Biden’s plan to tax the rich to fund all of his pet projects is going to backfire…bigly.

The Rich are the most mobile people on the planet, especially the super-rich. They can move anywhere…and will if it means protecting their wealth and income. And when they do so, they take that wealth and income (and ALL the tax revenue the government could have gotten from it) with them.

Businesses close or move to more business friendly countries, jobs go away, salaries decrease as the supply of labor increasingly exceeds demand and tax revenue ultimately does the exact opposite of the intention: it goes down rather than up.

And that leads me back to the title of this piece…the end result is more and more middle class people becoming poor and more and more poor people becoming dependent on the government for their survival. Which may ultimately be the goal all along. People who are dependent on the government for their survival are a lot easier for the government to control. “Oh, you don’t agree with letting biological males ‘compete’ against women in sports? We’ll cut off your food money for a while and see if you change your mind then…how’s that sound? I thought you might have a change of heart…”

This article from a guy who “gets it” is what prompted this rant.

Like those looters in Portland, Seattle, and other U.S. cities, progressives in Washington think the property of others is theirs for the taking. They control a majority in both house of Congress and the presidency, so they believe they have the right to take whatever they wish.

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Why would anyone want to be a cop right now?

As I’ve said many times, in the current environment, there are soon going to be only two kinds of cops – the REALLY good ones: who are still doing it because they love the work and have a sense of duty, even though they’re treated like the scum of the earth, and the REALLY bad ones: The ones who “get off” on the power of the badge, who are corrupt, or who are so inept they know they’d never make it in the world of business where you actually have to produce something to succeed.

As the younger generation who’ve come up learning that “All Cops Are Bastards” and that policing is inherently racist reach adulthood, the first kind is slowly going to disappear.

Who, in their right mind, would want a job where you’re hated by half the population, working crap hours, underpaid and expected to perform perfectly in every respect every time without fail…and, even if you do perform perfectly, if the outcome turns out badly, there’s a very good chance you’ll be thrown under the bus, at best lose your job and at worst end up in prison?

Seems I’m not alone in that sentiment.

My advice to my fellow officers is simple: The best thing you can do to take care of yourself and your family is to walk away from the table before the dealer decides to clean you out. If you have the skillset to be successful in this profession, you will be successful outside of it.

It’s worth reading the whole thing.

Be prepared to defend yourself and your family because if we aren’t already on our own out there, we very soon will be.

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Economics 101

Joe Huffman commented on why he doesn’t trust Bitcoin in the current environment and in that post he made one statement that drew my attention:

What if people start losing their faith? Doesn’t the value of Bitcoin decrease exponentially with this loss of faith?

One of the commenters hit on the subject that crossed my mind:

Second observation: all currencies, digital or otherwise, are entirely faith-based. They differ only in the number and fervency of the believers.

But I wanted to expound on that a little bit.

I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence here, but there are a lot of people out there who really don’t grok basic economics. Even some who do insist that the principles don’t apply in some situations. Heck, the entire premise of Keynesian economics is that big governments can just ignore all those common sense rules that your grandpa taught you because if you’re “too big to fail” they don’t apply.

Until they do. Dramatically. Cue the Venezuela reference.

At any rate, back to the subject at hand:

The value of anything is what other people will trade you for it. At the most basic level, people trade because they value something that they have less than they value the item they wish to trade for.

If I grow pigs, and have a bunch of them but what I really need right now is a new pair of overalls, I might be willing to trade a pig or two for a nice pair of overalls. I value the overalls more than I value the pigs (right now) because I have more pigs than I need.
If you make overalls but really, really love bacon, it’s very possible that you might value the pigs higher than the overalls and a mutually beneficial trade can be arranged. In free trade we both win, because we both end up trading something of relatively lower value to us, for something of relatively higher value to us. Plus, depending on what it is we’re trading for, our productivity may be improved causing us to have even more of a surplus of our products enabling more trade and adding more and more value to the overall community. That’s how wealth is “created”…but that’s another discussion.

Currency is nothing more than a proxy for the goods and services to be traded. What if I have an excess of pigs, and you have an excess of overalls, but you HATE bacon and don’t want my pigs? I could try to find someone who does eat bacon to trade with and hope they have something that you might want, but that could get pretty complicated pretty quickly. The glazier likes bacon but you don’t need a window either;  maybe the bricklayer needs a window, and you could use a new fireplace so I trade my pig to the glazier for a window, trade the window to the bricklayer in return for the bricklayer to build you a fireplace so I can get my overalls. Whew. You know what would make this a lot easier? If we had some universal thing that we could all trade with each other for anything. We’ll call it “currency”. I can sell my pigs for however much of this “currency” I can convince someone to pay and, when I’ve sold enough pigs and collected enough “currency” I can trade it to you for a pair of overalls and then you can trade the “currency” for whatever it is you need. That would make things much simpler wouldn’t it?

So…who decides how much of this “currency” we should trade in return for products and services? Well…we all do. If I am a skilled worker who is paid for my labor, I know how much effort I put into earning the amount of currency my employer paid me. How much I’m willing to pay for some other product or service is going to be based on how much value I place on my own labor. If you want me to purchase your goods or services, you’re going to have to negotiate a price wherein I’m satisfied that I’m getting at least as much value from you as I put into earning the currency. Then we get into competition and the free market but again, that’s a discussion for another time.

I know I’m putting this stuff into very simplistic terms and I’m not trying to insult anyone’s intelligence. What I’m trying to do is explain that, even as complicated as things can get when you get a bunch of “financial experts involved” at its basic level this stuff really is this simple.

What it boils down to is that generally people will trade for one (or more) of three reasons: The item they are trading for is of more practical value (by being consumed or used) to them than the item they’re trading away; They have confidence that the item they are trading for is going to increase in value over time more than what they’re trading and thereby increase their wealth; They have confidence that the item they are trading for will at least maintain its value over time and will prove more durable than what they traded for it, thereby preserving their wealth for the future.

When currency is used as a proxy for the traded goods and services, it has no inherent value in and of itself. Currency of any type is only as valuable as the goods and services it can be traded for. If suppliers of goods and services lose faith in the currency and stop accepting it in trade (or will only accept huge amounts of it) it becomes worthless.

That’s just as true for Dollars, Yuan, Euros, Gold, Silver, etc as it is for Bitcoin.

Some would argue that Gold and Silver have intrinsic value that makes them immune from such forces but I strongly disagree. Gold and Silver do have practical uses and when put to such purposes, their value is wrapped up in the practical uses to which they are put. The value of those metals is propped up to a certain level by the value of those practical purposes, but as a currency, their value is primarily based upon the value that others assign to it with respect to the goods and products they produce.

If those producers refuse to accept Gold and Silver in payment for their goods and services (or demand huge amounts of it) then the value of Gold and Silver drops to the level that can be supported solely by their practical uses…which may still be significant, but is likely much less than their potential value as a currency…a result of greatly reduced demand.

Anyway, that’s just a very long way for me to say “yea, that commenter is right”. Hopefully someone, someday reading this post will get something out of it.

By the way, if you’re interested in basic economics, there is a great resource from a world-renowned but completely unpretentious economist named Thomas Sowell that I highly recommend.

Buy Thomas Sowell-Basic Economics at Amazon

I get no kickback or other compensation for you using that link so if you find it somewhere else cheaper, knock yourself out…in fact if you find it somewhere cheaper online, feel free to post the link in the comments so others can save money too.

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The left’s game plan re crime and gun control

Bearing Arms this morning, has a post up about the Chicago Tribune publishing a story about rising black gun ownership that isn’t completely derogatory.

As surprising as that is, there is one line in the story that sparked my interest:

Many of the same Democrats who support criminal justice and policing reform because they see systemic bias inherent in the criminal justice system are eager to put more gun control laws on the books, even if that means they’ll be disproportionately enforced against minorities.

On the surface that may seem ironic but it’s really not counterintuitive at all when you think about what the left wants. This is true about many of their policies that, to any logical, rational, fact based analysis seems counterproductive or even hypocritical…think high minimum wage that increase unemployment, unfettered immigration that floods the market with cheap (below minimum wage) labor, “entitlements” that discourage self-improvement, and policies that discourage nuclear families.

The left wants the populace dependent on the government. That is the bottom line of their entire worldview. Leftism is their religion and the government is their god…everyone must be subservient to their god. Virtually everything they do is oriented toward that end. The problem is: how can they force independent, successful, self-reliant people to submit their will to government?

One of the most effective means is fear. You don’t really think all this China Virus madness is really just to protect us from a virus that almost exclusively affects the old and infirm and has a 99.7 percent survivability rate do you? It’s to instill fear and condition us to just mindlessly follow along with government edicts no matter how illogical or oppressive.

Same thing with their lax policies on crime combined with their determination to reduce the effectiveness of police and policing. How can they possibly get a strong, secure, confident people to bend the knee to big daddy government? The vast majority of violent crimes are committed by a very small percentage of society and they tend to be the same people committing violent crimes over and over again. How are they to ply their trade if we have an effective police force and firm punishment? They can’t terrorize their communities from behind bars now can they? So…eviscerate the Police, falsely accuse them of systemic racism, demonize them and sometimes criminalize them for doing their jobs. You end up with an ineffective Police department made up primarily of people who have no other job prospects.

At the same time, eliminate pre-trial incarceration, release violent offenders early, reduce sentencing guidelines, do everything possible to get the small percentage of the population who have the tendency toward violent crime out in the public where they can “do their thing”.

The result? Violent criminals freely roaming the streets and empowered by the knowledge that the Police department can and will do little to stop them.

Why? To instill fear of course. A confident, secure and successful populace doesn’t cry out to god government for help. You need the people to feel fearful, insecure and vulnerable to get them to do that.

But, what happens when the people don’t start turning to the government, but start equipping themselves to handle business? When, instead of becoming fearful, they become defiant and even more self-reliant?

We can’t have that…so…make it increasingly difficult for the non-violent to properly equip themselves to defend their families. The end goal is to eliminate completely the ability of the people to resist and force them to prostate themselves before the feet of almighty god government.

On the one hand, they’re freeing criminals from prisons, reducing sentencing, raising them up on pedestals if they are killed by the Police and reducing the ability of the Police to enforce the laws, on the other hand, they’re vilifying anyone who has ever committed even the most minor of offenses as untrustworthy and unsuitable to ever own the proper tools to resist evil.

Contradictory? Hypocritical? Illogical? Or just part of the plan.

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The government we deserve

I keep being told (by the ones who don’t just dismiss the obviously stolen 2020 election out of hand) that all the ills we suffered during the last election are going to be fixed before the next one, so Republicans have a good chance of taking back congressional majorities after the elections in 2022.

Sure they will

The “Establishment” Republicans, who are basically nothing more than the flip side of the same coin as the big government Democrats, were so desperate to get Trump out of office that they were willing to allow the voting process itself to be compromised. Now that the Genie’s out of the bottle, they’re not getting it back in. The precedent has been set. We’ve basically demonstrated to the democrats that they can change the rules whenever they want and steal an election with no consequences. They can do it brazenly and even on video and nothing will be done to correct it, not by the legislatures and not by the courts.

Basically, the court has ruled that you can’t contest election procedures before the election because you’re not a victim yet so you don’t have standing…but you can’t contest them after the election because you’ve already lost, for which there is no remedy, so the case is moot. Classic Catch-22.

As far as the Supreme Court is concerned, there are no election laws. They are unenforceable and so are meaningless.

I hope I’m wrong, but I believe that all the people on the right who are predicting the ’22 midterm election is going to change everything are going to be sorely disappointed.

Pretty much every state with any city in which the democrats control the election apparatus is going to have two Democrat senators. Just as in the 2020 election, that city will just crank out as many votes as they need to make the election go their way.

That’s pretty much every state with a couple of exceptions. So, after 2022, I expect the Dems to have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

More difficult is congressional representation, but the tenet holds. Any district with a city who’s election apparatus is run by democrats is going to have a democrat congressman. The democrats won’t have an overpowering majority like they will in the Senate, but they will have a majority.

Until something drastic and dramatic changes, there will be a democrat president and democrat majorities in the house and senate for the foreseeable future.

Which means government control over most aspect of our lives, toxic business climate, high taxes for the producers to pay for the bread and circuses for the masses, profligate spending on pet projects that pad the wallets of congresscritters and their associates/cronies/accomplices, eventually rampant inflation and economic collapse. With our already overwhelming debt and endlessly expanding deficit, the crash is only a matter of time.

I’ve been watching and talking about this slow motion train wreck for about 20 years now, and it’s just rolling right along. When the end comes, it’s going to be ugly. The most positive thing I can say about it is I hope I’m not around any more when the wreckage finally comes to rest.

I suppose it’s pointless to rail about it…even at least one of the founding fathers recognized the inevitability of this time.

“…I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. I doubt, too, whether any other Convention we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution.”
–Benjamin Franklin

Or, in more succinct terms: A people always gets the government it deserves.

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Flawed penumbral reasoning.

I don’t disagree with the conclusion that this author reached, but I very much disagree with the path followed to reach it:

But in 1965, Justice William O. Douglas used penumbral reasoning in the majority opinion of Griswold v. Connecticut to declare that a right to privacy exists in the Constitution — even though it’s not written anywhere. He then used this newly discovered “right” to find that a ban on contraceptives was therefore unconstitutional. A right to privacy seems like a logical inclusion in the constitution. But rather than five justices declaring it a right, why didn’t we add it to the Constitution with an amendment?

I left the below as a comment to that post, but decided it would make a fine blog post on its own, so here it is:

The logical flaw in this column is that there absolutely ARE rights that are not specifically written into the Constitution.
The inclusion of the bill or rights in the Constitution was actually a relatively contentious issue at the time, the arguments against the first ten amendments included the possibility that enumerating certain rights would lead to infringements of any rights that were not specifically enumerated.

In fact, as part of a compromise in order to appease the side arguing against including the bill of rights on that basis, the 9th Amendment was included which specifically and clearly states it:

“The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”
–Amendment IX, US Constitution.

So the claim that it is illegitimate for the Supreme Court to “make up” rights that aren’t spelled out in the bill of rights is…well…illegitimate.

The right to privacy in one’s personal dealings, I think, pretty fairly falls under the purview of the 9th Amendment as one of those un-enumerated rights they were talking about.

The issue isn’t with the Supreme court validating the concept of the right to privacy, but in interpreting that right cover a woman having her unborn child murdered because it happens within the shield of doctor-patient confidentiality and privacy. That’s the “logic” that required emanations and penumbras to reach.

There absolutely, positively are rights reserved to the people that are not enumerated in the Constitution and the Constitution itself even confirms this. It is absolutely, positively correct for the Supreme Court to affirm and uphold even unenumerated rights. What is incorrect and constitutes judicial activism is twisting logic and contorting common sense to extend those unenumerated rights to things that clearly violate the rights of others…like, for example, the right of another living human being to continue living.

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