Archive | Featured

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Anatomy of a Revolution – The Slogan

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-08-16 22:27:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

norbertatwork2
August 16, 2009

Some revolutions are eruptive. They gestate over a relatively short period of time, from the conception of an idea, a goal, a promise or an objective, they quickly transform from intellectual concept into mass action. The shorter the gestation period, the more violent the eruption.  These are usually bloody revolutions, executed with the kind of force that dramatically changes the landscape of a society, a nation, or in the most extreme cases, the world.  From a historical perspective, the Soviet revolution of 1917, while initially having a somewhat limited national objective (the abolishment of the tsar and the Russian monarchy), few would argue its final impact as being anything less than global. These types of revolutions are remarkably akin to a volcano – while the underlying pressure may have been building up over a long time, its explosion to the surface has an unmistakable identity, objective and effect.

And then there are the subtle revolutions, which instead of erupting, creep into existence. They are spoken about with subdued voices, introduced into circles of conversation without the participants even being aware that the revolution is in fact the topic of conversation.  These revolutions quietly introduce new words into the vocabulary, ones which once had a different meaning, but are now transformed to inject new ideals and thoughts, and a call-to-action tension. They may be silent at their birth and through most of their progressing stages of maturity, but their outcome can be just as wide-spread and impacting as their more violent cousin.

These are the revolutions which, once they progress to an advanced stage, create a rude awakening in a society with a “how did we allow this to happen” reaction.

For the revolutionary, language is his most powerful arsenal. And within language, the slogan is his most effective weapon.

The revolutionary has honed the slogan to be his most potent instrument. He uses it to inject his philosophy into the dialog. He uses it to introduce new meaning sympathetic to his agenda into the language. And ultimately, once society has been “softened up” with acceptance of the new terms of the conversation, he uses it to polarize society, creating an “us” and “them” division between his supporters and opponents.

In the early stages, subtle revolutions are almost always fought with slogans. Conversations are generally not welcome since they create a platform for a dialog where the revolutionary’s philosophy can be debated and usually defeated. However, ideology slogans are weapons to which there are few countermeasures.

An astute citizen will spot ideology slogans easily. Depending on the level of societal “softening” to the revolutionary’s agenda, they are either transparent and direct in their presentation of the ideology (“All Power to the Soviets” – a Bolshevik slogan used in the eve of the October revolution) or quite subtle and non-committal (“Change we can believe in – Slogan used by the Barack Obama in his 2008 presidential campaign).

Slogans usually comprise very few words, so as to appeal to all levels of literacy and intellect. The power (and at the same time treachery) which slogans present lie in their simplicity and clever obfuscation of the real objective which they promote.

Below are a few more prominent slogans used at different stages of the respective revolutions. I urge the reader to ponder the words of each and determine the level of subtlety or directness  and from it derive the stage of advancement of each revolution from which these slogans are taken:

Arbeit Mach Frei” – Used by Nazi Germany in 1933-45, posted over the main gates at a number of Nazi concentration camps. In English, the slogan means “work shall set you free”.

“Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer” (“One people, one country, one leader”) — Nazi Germany.

Every Man a King – Introduced in February 1934, the wealth and income redistributionist platform slogan used by Louisiana Governor Huey Long.

“Hasta la victoria siempre” (“There’s always a victory to be achieved”) – a Che Guevara-associated Communist slogan

Yes We Can – 2008 U.S. presidential campaign slogan of Barack Obama.

With the recent elections, we have unintentionally given a platform and a new spark to a revolution that has been going on in the United States for the last eight decades. It is of the subtle, slow and long-lasting kind, and is one that is no longer in its early stages, as president Obama is building on the momentum of many of his predecessors to abandon the principles of our founding and replace them with alien programs and platforms which have lead many a nation to the brink of collapse, and in some cases extinction (e.g. the U.S.S.R.).  And the slogans which accompany this stage of the revolution (or statist counter-revolution, as would probably be a more suitable term) are beginning to lose their subtlety. With “Yes we Can” Obama abandons any pretension of ambiguity and instead expresses a bold new horizon of socialist opportunity. There is no more indecision expressed in this slogan.

But if we understand the dynamics of the statist’s actions and his true intentions beyond the cleverly worded slogans, we arm ourselves with the necessary weapons to fight back in this war of ideologies.  When exposed, most Americans will see the statist’s intentions as opposite to their own core beliefs. As the recent highly animated town halls on the subject of socialized health care can attest to, an educated electorate, armed with facts and information, can engage the statist in the kind of conversation he is most uncomfortable in having – one of truth and historical experiences.

Below I leave the reader with a few artifacts of both past and present. Next time you see a colorful highway billboard on your way to work, a placard in the subway or backdrop on your local evening news, imagine it being replaced by one of these graphic slogans. What emotions does this evoke? More importantly, how does your intellect and value system react to these images?

Albanian communist poster

“Victory of Socialism over Capitalism” — still adorns many billboards in Albania

Soviet communist-poster

“Country and Party – Together and One”

Chinese Communist Party Sign

“Long live the Chinese Communist Party”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Article may be reprinted with attribution.

Email This ArticleEmail This Article

Comments (1)

Tags: ,

The Pain In My Wallet

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2010-04-25 19:42:21. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

cost of medicineby Norbert Sluzewski
Editor – NakedLiberty.com
April 25, 2010


Ouch! That was pretty much the only sound I could make getting out of bed that March morning after having overdone on the previous day’s lawn work. My back didn’t want to cooperate with what I otherwise needed to do, which included attending several business meetings and other private events. So without considering many alternatives, I dragged myself to my car, painfully scrambled into the driver’s seat of my SUV and drove off to see a local specialist.

I’ve not seen this doctor before, but he came highly recommended by my primary care physician. The office was pleasantly quiet and subdued and the chairs meticulously aligned in the waiting room were all properly hard so as to accommodate folks arriving in conditions similar to mine.

The doctor was quick to call my name and we soon found ourselves in an appropriately sterile but functional examining room, which comprised of nothing more than an examining table, wooden chair and a small supply closet. In a few quick and efficient motions, the doctor felt around my lower back, checked my knee and ankle reflexes and showed me an impressively realistic model of the human skeletal structure, exposing the nerves and arteries which criss-cross its length. I was duly impressed with the doctor’s description of my condition (a story which he likely has memorized from repeating dozens of times a day) and I was prescribed an anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant pill and a dose of physical therapy. From arrival to departure, the entire episode lasted exactly 11 minutes.

I am fortunate to have a reasonably good medical insurance plan, so the bill for the doctor’s services went directly to the insurance company. At no time was I concerned about the amount of the fee, nor did the pleasant medical administrator in the doctor’s office disclose to me what the fee for the doctor’s services would be.

And so several weeks have passed. My back has recovered to its nimble self (at least until my next gardening adventure) and all is again well in the world. Ah, but there is more.

A letter from the doctor arrived a few days ago, which politely explained that the insurance company will be applying the doctor’s fee against my annual deductible (hmm, how conveniently I’ve forgotten about that part of the coverage provisions). As a result, they are requesting payment of the full amount of the doctor’s services which (now take a deep breath) amounted to $575.

Ok, now this got my attention. At no time was this amount disclosed to me. Frankly, at the time, I didn’t really care. I was in serious pain and, after all, I wasn’t really going to be paying for it myself, right? If I had been told, would it have changed my intention and would I have walked out of the office? I don’t know – maybe, maybe not; but perhaps I would have considered alternatives, like a hot compress or an “Icy-Hot” patch.

Now that it looks like I am going to be out of pocket a few hundred bucks, I am beginning to question the value ascribed to the services rendered. Sure, in the end they provided me with medicine to ease the pain, and the physical therapy (for which I haven’t received the bill yet, but am sure it’s en route to my mailbox) did help me get a bit more strength into those achy back muscles, but $575 for 11 minutes of service? That’s a whopping $3,136 an hour. My expensive lawyer would gasp at an opportunity to bill his clients that kind of an hourly rate. Is there any profession that can top this? (No, not even that one – and I know what you’re thinking).

So it’s clear to me that the doctor’s fee is not driven by market forces, but instead by an opportunity to “get away with it” since in most cases there is very little vested interest by any of the parties in the transaction to keep the amount of the fee consistent with the effort expended or value of service provided.

Is there something broken in this type of a fee-for-service system? You bet there is.

The answers to bring sanity back into the doctor-patient relationship (particularly the financial part of it) are so glaringly simple and have been so widely discussed. Among these the most significant and most consequential solution includes removing employer co-sponsorship of medical insurance coverage for its employees and replacing it with tax deductible health savings accumulation accounts (HSA’s, FSA’s or similar). In this case each individual is directly responsible for maintaining their personal financial reserve for medical care. Supplemental insurance could certainly be offered for extraordinary expenses and catastrophic events, including government subsidies for those not able to afford them directly. Employers could easily continue to sponsor employee health maintenance benefits for their employees by offering contributions to the employees Health Savings accounts, similarly to how they incentivize retirement savings through 401k contributions.

One thing is irrefutably true and has been tested time and time again. The best way to keep costs at a reasonable level is to have parties in a transaction directly involved in agreeing on the cost and value of the transaction itself. Whether for medical services, education, housing or groceries at the local farm stand, the market is the optimal arbitrator of the value of any transaction. The more intermediaries are introduced into the transaction, and particularly when it’s the government acting as a proxy for what it determines to be common good, the less optimal (ergo, expensive) each such transaction becomes. At the scale of a society, these incremental costs attributed to involvement of the intermediaries add up pretty quickly and dramatically.

Now that I have a strong incentive, I amwriting to my doctor to request a reduction of the fee charged to an amount that we can both agree is more reasonable for the 11 minutes of time (and yes, his 6 years of medical school and overhead, etc. etc.) he devoted to me on that painful day in March. Instead of being angry at him for the clearly inflated fee, I actually appreciate this opportunity to engage with him in a conversation about cost and value. We’ll see if he feels likewise.

Stay tuned. I’ll post an update to this article once we’ve resolved our billing differences.


Article may be re-printed with full attribution to the author and NakedLiberty.com

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Is Meritocracy Dead in America?

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-06-29 20:46:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

It was a beautiful day on Long Island today, as my daughter fussed over her cap and gown, getting ready for her high school graduation. The rite of passage that is the graduation ceremony was to be the highlight of our day, the last ritual before going away to college and beginning her new academic and social life away from home and the heretofore familiar surroundings. As most fathers are at this stage, I am very proud of her and her achievements to date and am confident she will do great in college.

As we arrived at the school athletic fields where the ceremony was to take place for the over 600 graduating seniors, the school principal and various dignitaries from the board of education were all lined up to fulfill their respective roles in the process. Among them the familiar face of Charles (Chuck) Schumer, the senior senator from New York was to give the commencement speech.

Opening the ceremony, the senator started with his speech, and I was surprised to hear the exact same one I heard 2 years ago at my older daughter’s graduation. Thinking this to be a bit odd and frankly somewhat lazy, I paid little attention to the drone of “how I became a senator” until the speech’s concluding remarks. The culminating point of the speech was Schumer’s self-aggrandizing statement of having successfully sponsored a new $2,500 tax credit program for middle-class families. Under the program, which will run for 2 years, families will be entitled to claim a $2,500 tax credit per each student enrolled in college, provided that their income meets certain maximum threshold provisions, which he stated would be capped at $200,000.

“For each of you earning less than $200,000, you will now be able to afford to send your children to college,” said the senator. “For those of you making $200,000 and above – well, God bless you.” The audience reacted with an energetic applause to this not so subtle example of class warfare rhetoric.

Setting aside the inaccuracy of the qualifying income limit (according to our research, when combined with the HOPE credit and other tax laws, the qualifying income limit may in fact be $60K for single and $120K for families), the principle notion of government sponsorship of college education based on financial need as opposed to merit should be of some concern.

By targeting the nation’s financial resources on programs which aid less affluent prospective students, we have fundamentally abandoned any notions of meritocracy and replaced them with a need-based social construct. While clearly a popular position among most Americans since it is portrayed as a caring gesture of the government (who would object to receiving a seemingly free gift or in this case benefit, i.e. the proverbial something for nothing?), we should examine its consequences, as in most cases many of them end up being unintended and in the greater context, undesirable.

Should the affluence level of the student’s family be the driving measure in the allocation of government subsidies for the student to attend college?

We are conditioned to answer this question in the affirmative, since in our politically correct dialect the less affluent are part of an affirmative action class. It is therefore our societal obligation, we are taught, to provide access to our nation’s financial resources on a preferred basis to those who are most in need of them, without regard to their individual contribution or their ability to make best use of such resources.

To what degree do we value fairness in the distribution of government financial aid for college education, or does the principle of equality trump all others?

As modern day Americans we don’t seem to place much value on fairness in the manner in which government serves its people. I’ve written on the distinction between equality and fairness in the June 13, 2000 article “Let’s not Confuse Equality and Fairness”. The article exposes our progressively degenerating definition of equality from what was our Founding Fathers’ original intent (equality of opportunity and not that of outcome) to the present socio-marxist interpretation of “… to each according to his needs.” In the long run, the dogmatic adherence to equality according to one’s need necessarily must lead to a polarization of the society and, instead of creating the intended harmony between income classes, it creates an increasingly greater rift between them. Meritocracy has to be, to a dominant extent, interwoven into the decision process in order for a society to survive and thrive.

Since we are now competing for minds in a global economy, how do we rank in their midst?

Since we’ve conceded that the optimal distribution of resources to produce the most effective outcome (only achievable through a merit based allocation) is not the goal, we therefore accept mediocrity as a satisfactory outcome. This, beyond any other force, is likely to have the most far reaching impact on the quality of citizens our education system produces over the long run. Comparing our policies with those of China, India and most European countries, where college entry is earned primarily through exceptional performance, the divergence in the intellectual quality of their college graduates as compared with those coming out of US schools is already becoming more apparent.

Many who would not consider themselves to be affluent, have historically not been able to qualify for any meaningful financial aid precisely because of their tax dollars being dispersed according to an equality formula that has very little, if anything to do with the benefit that the dollars spent will produce. In the case of my daughter, who graduated high school in the top 5% of her class of over 600, her acceptance into a number of very good schools was not matched with any meaningful financial contribution from the government. We ended up making a reasonable compromise, but I have not yet come up with a good way of explaining to her why her excellent performance and exceptional efforts were not recognized by the government of a country of which she will once be a leader.

* * * * *

Quotation of the Day:

“Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our nation.”

John F. Kennedy (1917 – 1963)

* * * * *

We welcome your comments and suggestions, either directly inline, or via email to editor@nakedliberty.com. If you would like to have your article published in Naked Liberty, please contact the editor at the above email address.

Click Here to Subscribe to Naked Liberty Articles by Email

 

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , ,

The Lobbyist Does Not Speak the Peoples’ Voice

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-07-23 21:55:57. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Constitution lays the foundation for a relationship between the people and their government. This relationship is, to a significant degree, founded on the trust that each citizen places with their elected representatives. These representatives, whether local, regional or national, by being elected to their posts, accept the responsibility of supporting their constituents’ ideals, goals and principles. They become servants of the people, an extension of their individual voices in the collective government they comprise.

There is a game we used to play as kids called “echo,” where each player would whisper something in their neighbor’s ear, who in turn would whisper what they thought they heard to their neighbor, and so on. Inevitably, a humorous concoction of snippets of the original sentence would emerge at the end of the line. A completely innocent game of listening and interpretation, with each player having only one objective – to relay the message with as much accuracy as possible. Even with only three players – a source, middle and recipient – very rarely would the recipient receive the original message intact.

Now let’s inject an agenda into the game. How would the outcome be affected if the middle player was induced by the school bully to distort the message and to influence the recipient’s apprehension of the original message’s content? Surely meaning would be lost. In the innocence of the game, one might even ascribe humor to the outcome. But what if the stakes were higher, much higher?

In the dynamics of communications between the people and their government, a highly biased and results-motivated middle man agent is injected. He is called The Lobbyist and he enters directly into the path of the people’s voice. His intentions are indeed highly motivated. His agenda has nothing to do with accurately communicating the people’s voice. His intentions are in fact highly distortive to the communications process.

Most sources attribute the birth of the Lobbyist to the administration of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant would often walk to lobby of the Willard Hotel not far from the White House to enjoy his favorite cigars. His routine was quickly picked up by politicians who would find this time a perfect opportunity to solicit him with special requests for support of various matters. The term “lobbyist” emerged from these interactions.

Political lobbying has historically been regarded as an “unclean” activity, shunned away from by most politicians who otherwise prided themselves on the purity of their intentions and reputation. This attitude changed dramatically in the 1980’s as political lobbying became more and more lucrative (and thereby corrupted), and professional lobbying firms sprouted all across the political landscape, backed by large enterprises and their financial sponsorship of various causes. According to a Washington Post article, “The number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled since 2000 to more than 34,750 while the amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent. Only a few other businesses have enjoyed greater prosperity in an otherwise fitful economy.”

In the first 2 weeks in office President Obama nominated 17 professional lobbyists to several key advisory positions in his administration. These included Eric Holder as attorney general, Tom Vilsack as secretary of agriculture, William Lynn as deputy defense secretary, and fourteen others. Notwithstanding his campaign promise to keep his administration clean of ex-lobbyists, he continues to follow, with perhaps even more vigor than his predecessors, the practice of surrounding himself with influence-peddling bureaucrats. As HotAir.com points out, the president has conspicuously offered himself “For Sale” to all interested (and willing to pay-to-play) interest groups, and his actions since then, including the scandalous deal with the UAW in connection with the GM bailout, are a testament to the fact that he is indeed a player.

Are all lobby activities necessarily bad? Don’t lobbyists sometimes also represent the people’s interest on important issues? Doesn’t the NRA, for example, do good work on behalf of citizens concerned about protecting the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution (our right to keep and bear arms)? What about the lobbies that work to protect the rights of the underprivileged, to protect our borders, to promote education?

Inasmuch as many such lobby organizations may be motivated by righteous ideals, the institution of the lobby system is by its own formulation corrupt. When influence is bought with currency, if not directly into a politician’s pocket, then through the barter of monetize-able influences, good intentions are quickly polluted by commercial transactions and ethical compromises. The lobbyist necessarily becomes the undesirable relay agent a political game of Echo, placing himself in line of the people’s communication path with their government.

In a government “of the People, by the People and for the People” (Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address) there is no place for a translator of the people’s voice in government. Our elected representatives are our channel of communication. With the rise in the influence of the lobbyist, it seems we’ve empowered a commercially incentivized third party to interpret our voice. And while our elected representatives have become too lazy to directly listen to our needs and calls for action, the lobbyist-translated messages do not reflect our original interests, meaning and intent.

There is increasing peril in allowing our representative form of government to continue to be warped by the influences that a financially motivated and ethically tainted system of lobby influences has on our relationship with our government. While attempts to reform the present system by imposing registration requirements, disclosing contributions and other transparency measures are a good first start (see Ethics and Lobbying Reform Act of 2006 and Lobbying and Ethics Reform Act of 2007, they fall far short of tangibly reducing the influence the lobby industry has on the activities of our government and re-connecting the people back to their elected representatives.

If our elected officials want our respect, trust and vote, then engage with us in a real and direct dialog without the middle man. Playing “echo” was fun when we were kids. Now let’s grow up and take responsibility for having a serious, adult conversation.

Mr. Government Representative – please look me straight in the eyes, listen to me and tell me what you stand for. You might be surprised to find out that I might actually believe you.


Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s All About Common Sense

Posted on 10 April 2011 by Editor

Originally posted 2009-09-01 22:54:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Thomas Paine.
Image via Wikipedia

August 23, 2009

Each and every day a child is born into a world of truths and lies, rights and wrongs, haves and wants.  From its first breath, it is conditioned to understand the forces of action and reaction, the relationship between wanting and getting, and how to manipulate the circumstances to best serve its needs. Whether it’s crying to receive its milk or copping a smile to get a hug, the child quickly begins to understand how to acquire material and non-material things.

Our mind is conditioned to think in terms of acquisitions and possessions. It is human nature and, just like with any other emotion, there too is an emotion attached to one’s possessions. The value of one’s possessions (regardless of whether they are material, like a home or a car, or non-material, like professional respect or rich family traditions) is directly related to the effort exerted in obtaining them. The depth of the emotion attached to these possessions is similarly directly correlated to this effort, as well as their value.  The three form an inextricable triad which is deeply rooted in human nature and natural law. From this simple observation, a basic conclusion about the human condition can be summarized as follow:

Your happiness is directly related to the value of the wealth (material and non-material) you’ve created and the effort you’ve contributed in creating it.

When we are first taught to play in the sandbox, we are told not to take the other children’s toys. Why? Because first of all those toys don’t belong to us – we haven’t earned the right to have them. Secondly, it would make the other children sad, since that for which they likely had to do something to get (i.e. earn it), would be unjustly taken away from them. It’s just common sense, isn’t it?

value-effort-happiness

But some time very soon after the sandbox stage in a child’s development, these nascent links and deep-rooted relationships between ownership, effort and happiness begin to be eaten away. In the home this happens through parents who too easily accept the commercial media version of the world and who are not willing (or intellectually able) to espouse the basic principles of natural law and individual responsibility onto their offspring.   Outside the home the society takes over with incongruent representations of the real world, manifested in attitudes such as:

  • debt is good (and you don’t really have to pay it all back)
  • your mistakes are everyone else’s problem
  • less capable does not mean less deserving
  • every effort is just as good as any other, and should deserve the same outcome (i.e. it’s the effort that counts)
  • opportunity should not be equally apportioned, but instead should be skewed toward those who need it most, even (or particularly) if at the expense of those who can produce a better outcome from such opportunity

Does that make sense? Is a society which has these as its principles efficient, fair, equitable and sustainable?

Clearly, the answer must be “no,” since each violates one or more basic laws of human behavior and indeed common sense. Yet over the better part of the 20th century the American society has adopted and inculcated each of these values into its daily life and its government, media and cultural centers continue to promote even greater departures from the basic principles which make up the human behavioral DNA.

A modern society which is based on principles of liberty and freedom cannot at the same time be one which imposes unnatural laws and ordinances on its citizens. It is not, as most progressive liberals would like to see, a place and time where all are guaranteed an equal outcome, regardless of their individual contribution.  It certainly cannot be one which irresponsibly uses its financial and human resources and violates the most basic principles of supply/demand economics.

Like the sea farer that knows the immovable nature of the stars and how they provide him guidance to navigate the stormy waters, so too a modern society must have its anchor in tried and tested core founding principles. And this is particularly true in a world where change is occurring at increasing speed and where losing its national compass, a society risks eternal disorientation in the sea of conflict and divergence.

In his 1776 political pamphlet “Common SenseThomas Paine looks at the political systems of his time, the monarchy, the British parliament, commons and constitution and questions many of the prevailing ideas of the role of government and its relationship to the citizens. In so doing he applies a rigorous discipline of logic and of common sense, and exposes nonsensical laws and political traditions. Most constitutional historians agree that this scrutiny and deep analysis of the British system of government at the time made a significant impact on the writing of the United States Constitution.

We could say that much common sense was applied by the authors of the American Constitution in formulating the principles of our founding. We know that because of its common sense it has withstood the test of time.

Each time we step away from these guiding principles, we lose one more star in the sky to guide us by.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Article may be published with attribution to the author and the NakedLiberty.com web site

Article is Copyrighted (c) 2009, XCIOS, LLC

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Comments (2)

Free Subscription to Naked Liberty Articles
* indicates required
Advertise Here
Advertise Here

TradeTrakker


Our Twitter Followers

Friends: Followers:

Recommended









free counters

Contribute

Other Links

EasyHits4U.com - Your Free Traffic Exchange - 1:1 Exchange Ratio, 5-Tier Referral Program. FREE Advertising!

Yavrim.com - Link to a Random Site. Help Promote Free Traffic Exchange
Subscribe to updates

Get Adobe Flash player