Christians and Jim Crow and Gays, Oh Myyy!

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
- a quote often (mis)attributed to Voltaire and Patrick Henry

we_reserve_the_right_signI’ll be honest. I hesitated to write this article. I hesitated because at times I will be defending people whose actions I disagree with. I also know that gay rights is a very hotly-debated topic right now so take the risk of offending some people. In fact, I risk offending people on both sides of the issue! However, for all the rhetoric going back and forth I think most people are missing the bigger picture. And the bigger picture is very important to consider in the framework of the debates going on right now. So in the interest of adding to the dialogue and hopefully presenting a fresh viewpoint, I am just going to put my thoughts out there and let come what may. But first, let me tell you a personal story.

My father died of cancer when he was 50 years young. Most likely the cancer was caused by his many years of smoking. I was only 29 when he passed 10 years ago. He died on the same day my second daughter was born. Besides my own loss, smoking robbed my daughters of a grandfather, my wife of a father-in-law, and my mom of a husband. More than most people, I have every reason to hate the practice of smoking. So several years ago when laws to ban smoking in “public” places were being debated in my area, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that I would have been supportive of passing those laws. However, then as now, I put my own personal feelings aside for the sake of freedom. While I certainly am supportive of and applaud any establishment that chooses to not allow smoking on their property, I do not support a government-enforced ban. I knew then as I know now that even if I vehemently disagree with someone’s actions, a free society does not attempt to enforce their own morality on a person’s life or business. Rather, we make our viewpoints known by actually expressing our thoughts to those who run businesses and ultimately with our dollar vote.

Prior to any legally-enforced smoking bans I was more likely to visit restaurants that were voluntarily non-smoking. And I generally did not visit bars or places where smokers hung out. I made my thoughts on smoking known to anyone who would listen. But I wasn’t going to advocate for the use of government violence to enforce a ban on smoking. As a business owner I knew that how I choose to run my business, just as I choose to live my life, is my right. I wouldn’t tolerate anyone else telling me how to run my business or live my life, so I wasn’t about to support doing the same to others, no matter how much I couldn’t stand the decisions they were making.

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.
- Voltaire (he actually did say this – in French of course!)

Fast forward to today and the same basic issue of the rights of business owners has arisen again. Only this time the question is whether businesses can choose to deny service to a customer. Several states at the time of this writing, most notably Arizona although Missouri is about to jump in the mix, are debating passing laws that absolve business owners of any liability if they choose to deny service to gay people based on moral objections. This issue has primarily been brought about by the new legality of gay marriage in many states. Businesses that revolve around the marriage industry, such as cake bakers and wedding photographers, are now being asked to service gay couples. Some are turning down this business, often on the grounds that they do not support gay marriage because of their religious beliefs. Some couples who were refused service have taken to prosecuting business owners for discriminating against them in these instances, often citing various equality or civil rights laws. Therefore the reaction by several states has been to propose new laws that are designed to protect business owners if they are exercising their right to refuse business on moral grounds. And that is where things get real sticky.

First let me state that as a human being, let alone a business owner, I do not discriminate based on a person’s sexuality. I have several clients who I believe are gay and I’ve employed people who were apparently gay. I say it in this way because I don’t really bother to ask or investigate people’s sexuality. Whether someone is gay or not is really no matter to me, especially when it comes to earning their business or having them help me service my clients. Therefore, I do not personally agree with any owner who chooses to not do business with gay people. However, I also respect their right to make that decision. Just as I respect their right to serve or not serve people based on other criteria, such as dress code, behavior, ability to pay, or if they are smokers in a non-smoking establishment. I may not agree with their decisions, but I won’t try to force my personal morality upon them. In fact, I wrote an article almost two years ago discussing this whole topic, titled Freedom, Discrimination, and Morality.

In that article I discuss the infamous Jim Crow laws as well as the equally infamous Apartheid laws of South Africa. Many gay rights advocates are claiming that proposed laws such as Arizona’s SB 1062 are the same as Jim Crow laws because they institutionalize the practice of discrimination. Again, while I disapprove of discrimination against gay people, the fact is that there is quite a bit of difference between Jim Crow laws and Arizona SB 1062. Where the new bill is purported to protect the rights of business owners to turn away business as they see fit, Jim Crow laws and Apartheid FORCED discrimination upon the population. As a business owner in those southern states, you were required to keep “separate but equal” facilities for “people of color”. Apartheid enforced similar rules. Even if you weren’t a racist, the governments required you to follow these laws, which were true examples of state-sanctioned, institutionalized discrimination. The proposed Arizona law, as well as the laws being proposed by other states, do not require businesses to turn away gay people. They simply protect business owners from prosecution under other laws in case they get sued for refusing to serve particular customers. To reiterate, I do not approve of or condone discrimination based on sexuality, but I also respect the rights of business owners to serve who they choose. Ultimately, the freedom of a business owner to run a business the way they see fit trumps any objections I have. I believe this because I believe in freedom. Others should believe this as well, if for no other reason than protecting other people’s rights is the best way to protect their own. However, this doesn’t mean people should sit quietly when they believe strongly about something. We can choose to show our objections by not supporting a business with our money and encouraging other people to do the same. Which is ultimately the best way free people can help shape society.

In fact, the history of Jim Crow laws are an interesting case study of the forces of free markets on society. After the civil war, there was a lot of racial tension. Many white landowners didn’t want to hire black workers. Many white business owners didn’t want to serve black people. However, the free market began to erode racist attitudes. Black workers who were willing to work for less enticed white land owners to hire them. Business owners who were turning away black people began to lose business to those who would serve them. Black people started running their own businesses, putting competitive pressure on other businesses to hire black people at better wages and service black people as well. It seems that “evil” profit turns out to be a greater motivator than racism. It was only after reconstruction when racists, unhappy at the way the free market was giving black people the same opportunities as white people, gained the power of a government. It was with that power that they were able to institutionalize racism through the violent force of government laws. First, they disenfranchised black voters through measures such as poll taxes. Then laws were passed that used licensing as a way to restrict black people from starting their own businesses. Regulations were created that restricted black people from owning guns and protecting themselves. And finally the Jim Crow laws were passed making racism a government-sanctioned and enforced way of life. Without the violent force of government, the free market was well on its way to minimizing racism. Institutionalized racism only endured because of big government.

In the same way today, the free market is helping reduce homophobia, regardless of proposed laws like Arizona SB 1062. These laws don’t require discrimination based on sexuality, they only claim to protect the freedom of business owners to serve who they choose. As business owners found out after the civil war, you stand to lose business to other companies that do not discriminate for bigoted reasons. We don’t need laws that force business owners to serve people – we just need government to NOT pass laws that enforce discrimination.

Before you think I am a proponent of laws like Arizona SB 1062, slow your roll. Just as I don’t want government to institutionalize discrimination, I don’t want government to pass laws that serve no purpose or are band-aids for other bad laws. There should be no reason for proposed laws to be necessary in the first place. If a business owner doesn’t want to provide service to a customer, that is their right. There should be no recourse against them as they didn’t violate anyone else’s rights. To be perfectly clear, you DO NOT have the right to make a business owner serve you. It is only because of other government regulations in force today that people think they can force others to work for them. Instead of passing new laws that seem to have the insinuation of government-sanctioned discrimination, we should be repealing those laws that allow others to sue companies and put them out of business. It simply isn’t right in a free society to force someone to work for another. If we really want to get down to it, the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution outlawed involuntary servitude. I’m not sure if a better example exists of involuntary servitude than using the violent force of government to compel a business owner to work for someone else.

Let’s go back to my original story. I hate smoking. As part of my business, I go into a lot of people’s homes. I have thought about no longer doing business with people who smoke in their homes because I simply can’t stand the smell of cigarette smoke, not to mention the nasty residue that cigarettes leave all over the computer equipment I work on. Luckily for me, it seems that fewer and fewer people smoke in their homes anymore, so this isn’t as big of a problem as it was when I first started working in people’s homes almost 20 years ago. However, I reserve the right to refuse to service anyone who smokes if I so choose. Imagine if someone tried to sue me because I refused to serve them in their smoky homes. That would be ludicrous. Or worse, imagine if a gay smoker decided to sue me because they thought I was discriminating against them for being gay or at least spun it that way to be malicious. As it stands, I could be liable under various laws even though I’m not doing anything wrong. I’ll say it again, it is simply wrong in a free society to force someone to work for another. Disagree with that and you start running down a very slippery slope.

Imagine a gay business owner who wants to refuse service to a homophobe. Perhaps this person wants “God Hates Gays” baked on a cake or T-shirts made with that phrase. Or they want a gay photographer to take pictures of a Westboro Church Rally. The knife cuts both ways when we infringe upon business owners’ right to refuse service. Now some of you will try to rationalize this away by saying something like homophobes choose to be hateful and being gay is the way people are born so it’s not the same thing. Rationalizations work all well and good when choosing to infringe certain rights – as long as your group has political power. Rationalizations can be used against you when the other side has power. Rationalizations are the reason institutionalized discrimination has existed. Rationalizations are the reason “Separate but Equal” was allowed to exist. Be careful how you rationalize away people’s rights because your rights might be next.

I can appreciate people’s feelings getting hurt when they are discriminated against. As a hispanic person, I’ve been lucky enough to avoid most racial discrimination in my life, but I’ve held my tongue a few times when people have made racial remarks about hispanics in front of me. They obviously didn’t know my heritage and it wasn’t worth the confrontation to say something. But I’m not about to go advocate for laws forcing people to not speak their mind if they are saying things I don’t agree with. Even with laws on the books that allow me to sue people for discrimination, I would not prosecute if I faced it. Why? Because I believe in the power of free people solving their own problems and because these are the sorts of actions that lead to reactionary laws like Arizona SB 1062.

I have a self-professed bisexual friend who frequently posts on Facebook, “Love is Love and All Love is Good Love“. To those who fought and still fight to make gay marriage legal I must ask, what are you fighting for? Because if you are fighting for love, then ask yourselves this: is it love to force someone else to work for you? Is it love to force someone to do something that is against their morality? Whether or not you agree with someone’s beliefs, don’t you ask of others that your own beliefs are at least respected? You have long fought for tolerance and respect. Don’t now become the aggressors. Don’t become like the very people you have fought and continue to fight against. Everything you have worked for can come crumbling down if you use the violent force of government to enforce your morality on others, just as they have done to you for so long. If you are fighting for love, then show love to your neighbors who may not yet completely accept your way of life. Respect their beliefs as you ask them to respect yours. Ultimately, you’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar. If a business chooses not to serve you, just find another that does. I have no problem if you choose not to do business with that company in the future and feel free to encourage others to not support them either. But you cross the line when you ask government to threaten a business with violence if they don’t serve you and in turn become the very people you claim to be fighting against.

In the same vein, it is certainly within people’s rights to boycott businesses that they don’t like for whatever reason. However, I would caution people like George Takei who advocate boycotting all businesses in an entire state because that state passed a law they don’t like. Guess what? There are many more businesses in that state who would not discriminate against gay people then there are who would, even if given the legal room to do so. And lots of those businesses are probably owned by gay people. Don’t do your cause a disservice by throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Target those businesses directly that have policies you don’t like, but don’t punish innocent businesses simply because their state government did something you don’t approve of.

If you truly believe in freedom you must be willing to allow others their freedom, even if you don’t agree with what they advocate. Otherwise, we are hypocritical to fight for some freedoms while denying others theirs. Freedom is Freedom and All Freedom is Good.

With that, I’ll leave you with part of the famous speech from the movie, “The American President”.

America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say, “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.” You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me THAT, defend THAT, celebrate THAT in your classrooms. Then you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.

 

Why Obamacare is NOT Good for Small Businesses

Obama Doctor GloveI stumbled upon an article on the web site of The New Yorker titled, “Why Obamacare is Good for Small Businesses.” As a small business owner myself, in addition to being well connected with many other small business owners across the country, I found the title of the article curious. All evidence to the contrary, Obamacare has been terrible for businesses in this country, small or otherwise. But I took the bait anyway and read the article just in case the author had come across some worthwhile knowledge.

Given the matter-of-fact tone of the title, boldly exclaiming that Obamacare is good for small business, the article reveals itself to be little more than conjecture. As stated in the first paragraph “… Obamacare may well be the best thing Washington has done for American small business in decades.” Later on the article states, “… the likely benefits of Obamacare for small businesses are enormous.” These two statements should be red flags that the author isn’t stating fact, but merely speculating why he thinks Obamacare might be good.

The article first talks about the employer mandate which only affects businesses of 50 or more employees. He out-of-hand dismisses the impact that Obamacare will have on the overall economy because he claims ninety-six percent of businesses in this country have fewer than 50 employees. I won’t argue this point because I’m not a business owner with over 50 employees. Plus this argument doesn’t explain why Obamacare will actually be good for small business, as the article’s title proclaims. Rather it simply tries to refute arguments why it will be bad. Regardless, simple observation of news headlines shows that large numbers of employers are in fact making workforce reductions because of Obamacare. At the very least this appears to be a significant enough trend to warrant further scrutiny, instead of simply shrugging off the very real ramifications this will have on very real people.

The first affirmative argument the author attempts is that Obamacare will make it easier for people to start their own business. The justification being that starting a business was risky because finding affordable health insurance was not guaranteed. People would prefer staying employed to keep their health insurance through their employer rather than try to find private health insurance. This phenomenon, labeled as “job lock”, I agree exists, but not to the extent that the author claims. Certainly one barrier to starting a business is finding health insurance. But starting a business is risky all the way around. Finding health insurance is a risk that can be mitigated (or at least could be until Obamacare). First, many people starting businesses join their spouse’s plan when possible. I know many examples of entrepreneurs who got around job lock in this way. Second, while there is no guarantee of finding affordable health insurance, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to verify this one way or the other. Someone considering starting their own business will know for sure if they can find affordable insurance with just a few phone calls. The simple “threat” of not finding affordable health insurance won’t actually stop someone from starting a business (at least not anyone who is serious). True, if someone actually can’t find affordable health insurance that might stop them from starting a business. But the author gives no supporting evidence to show that this is truly a problem. And if job lock actually was a problem, Obamacare has definitively made this situation significantly worse!

I run my own business consisting of myself and my wife as the only employees. When I launched this business full-time over 11 years ago, initially I went on my wife’s health insurance plan. That lasted about a year until my wife was downsized. Since that point, about 10 years ago, we have had private insurance. We too were initially fearful at the loss of our health insurance that we received from her employer. And while we did end up paying more once we went private, it was a lot less than many people were telling us it would be. While our private health insurance costs have increased steadily year over year, we recently received a letter from our health insurance company stating that our premium had gone up significantly. Additionally, the plan we currently have can not be renewed after December 31st of this year (hmmm … I wonder why?). The new plans they offer cost even more than our newly increased premium and have a higher deductible. Shopping around so far shows that other insurance carriers show similar trends. Obamacare has definitely effected my personal economy in a negative way. But I guess that’s an impact that is too small for the author to care about.

It would be one thing if my family’s siutation was an anomaly. But I’ve heard from many other business owners that they received the same news from their insurance companies as well. I’m actually lucky. My increase, while significant enough, is small compared to some other stories I’ve been personally made aware of. And if you don’t take my word for it, perhaps you’d take the word of another small business owner? Or if that isn’t enough, perhaps you’d take the word of people who championed Obamacare and voted for Obama twice? They’ve been shocked to find their private healthcare costs have skyrocketed recently.

The author states that Obamacare could enable 1.5 million people to become self-employed by eliminating “job lock”. The reality is that if health insurance “job lock” was keeping people from starting their own business, Obamacare has just thrown away the key. The increased cost of private health insurance due to Obamacare is yet another example of big government intrusion hurting entrepreneurship and the little guy.

The author then goes on to state that Obamacare will provide tax credits to small businesses that want to insure their employees, evening the playing field with large companies. He also states that “community rating” will restrict insurance companies from charging certain small businesses more due to higher risk employees. First, insurance costs are based on risk for good reason. It allows companies to charge fairly. Those with higher risk are more likely to use insurance, therefore are more costly to carry. But those with less risk benefit from lower premiums. As Obamacare has now proven with individual private insurance, if insurance companies can’t charge higher premiums due to higher risk, then they must charge everyone higher premiums! Just as I and many other business owners who have private insurance must now pay higher premiums due to Obamacare’s mandates, what do we think is going to happen to the cost of health insurance for small business? Obamacare will in fact further de-incentivize small businesses from carrying health insurance for their employees. I don’t think this supports the author’s assertion that Obamacare will be good for small business.

Interestingly the author points out that the fact most Americans get health insurance through work is a “historical accident”. During World War II, the government forced private businesses to freeze wages. In an attempt to work around what the government had done to the free market, employers started offering health insurance and benefits as a way to increase overall compensation. He then states that Congress gave corporations tax incentives after the war to keep providing health insurance (blaming conservatives and doctors for stymying the creation of universal health care, as if government-run health insurance is something to aspire to). What the author fails to point out is that this “accident” was caused by government interference in the free market. If government hadn’t instituted unconstitutional wage freezes and then given tax breaks only to corporations for providing health insurance (why had tax levels risen to such high levels that tax “breaks” were significantly beneficial and why didn’t they give tax breaks to small businesses and individuals?) then the whole “job lock” situation wouldn’t exist today. Hmmm … the overreach of government caused this problem? I wonder what other problems government overreach has caused?

The battle over Obamacare truly is a big waste of time and energy. Obamacare ultimately is just a symptom of a bigger problem. The real issue we all must deal with is the high cost of health care and the correspondingly high cost of health insurance. At the root of the problem lies big government. As the article titled, “Let’s Make Health Care Inexpensive Again,” correctly points out, the cost of health care and health insurance has steadily increased in direct proportion to the amount of government interference in the health care industry. Note that this article was written in 2002! As recently as the 1950′s, this country had the highest standard of health care at a fraction of what it costs today,  health insurance was available to nearly everyone – even people with pre-existing conditions, and doctors made house calls. As an example of the costly encroachment of government, the article points out that every time the government forces an insurance company to cover a particular medical procedure, the cost of insurance goes up for everyone. 11 years later, this should have been obvious to most people, but if it wasn’t, Obamacare has just made it painfully obvious to the entire country.

Instead of tackling the real cause of skyrocketing health insurance costs – big government overreach and interference in healthcare – Obamacare has doubled-down on failed policies, virtually guaranteeing that healthcare costs will continue to rise – except this time it will be a rise of unprecedented proportions. I’m not sure what the author was thinking, but increased healthcare costs aren’t good for anyone. Obamacare is definitely NOT good for small business.

Obama and Apple

President, I've worked with Apple. I know Apple. Apple is a friend of mine. President, you're no Apple.

Obama, I’ve worked with Apple. I know Apple. Apple is a friend of mine. Obama, you’re no Apple.

As usual, please read my Obligatory Obama Disclaimer if you haven’t already.

As expected, the rollout of the online Obamacare exchanges was plagued with issues. In an effort to make excuses, Obama compared the launch of his exchanges with the release of Apple’s iOS 7 just a couple of weeks earlier. He said Apple found a glitch at release, fixed it, and nobody was suggesting that Apple should be shut down. He suggested that we should give Obamacare the same latitude while it works through its glitches, even after they’ve had 3 years to get it ready. Well, Mr. Obama, you started this game, so let’s take your comparison for a little spin, shall we?

If Apple had a record of terrible programs and systems like that of the federal government, they wouldn’t be the most valuable tech company in the world. They’d be more like … well … Microsoft. Obamacare is to the federal government what Windows 8 is to Microsoft: disasters of unprecedented scale that threaten to bankrupt their creators.

Like Windows 8, if Apple had put out such a terrible system, a system that many experts predicted would be awful, there would have been a huge uproar from their customers. Why is Obama so surprised that his “customers” are pushing back?

Unlike Obamacare, if I don’t like a product Apple puts out I can choose not to buy it. Apple’s products don’t cause other increases in my cost of living. And Apple damn sure doesn’t forcibly take my money if I refuse to buy their products.

Comparing a socialist program like Obamacare – supported by forced taxation, coercion, and threats of violence to ensure compliance – to a product developed in free market – in which customers freely make the choice to purchase – is a slap in the face to the principles this country was founded upon.

Happy Shutdown Day!

Government Shut DownDon’t worry, I guarantee the “shutdown” of the United States federal government will not last very long. Those who stand to lose the most from a prolonged shutdown are the establishment politicians. A protracted shutdown of “non-essential” federal government services will only serve to show the people just how non-essential they really are. Which will then make people start questioning why the federal government is handling those operations in the first place. Establishment politicians need their entitlement programs as leverage to get reelected. If entitlement programs start disappearing, this opens the door wider for small-government politicians to get into office. So again, don’t worry about the shutdown. The federal government will soon start spending our money (plus money it doesn’t have) at the same voracious rate it was before – likely even faster once the politicians make their deals.

The only thing I wish we would see is a tax break for every day the federal government was shutdown. If people would actually see a larger paycheck because they weren’t paying taxes on the days the government was shut down we’d see some serious reduction of government!

In the meantime, celebrate the idea of a government shutdown, even if it only lasts a little while. The reality is that the federal government in a partial shut down is much closer to the government the founders envisioned and that ran the country during the early days. You know, when the United States was truly considered the land of opportunity. Perhaps a little taste of small government might help us return to those days.

What Elizabeth Warren Really Said …

There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there - good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn't have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory... Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea - God bless! Keep a hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.This quote by Elizabeth Warren shown in the picture floats around the Internet every so often, touted by many as some sort of great wisdom. But if we break it down, we find that it isn’t quite the benevolent quote many take it to be. So let’s take a look at my version of what Elizabeth Warren “really” said.

There is nobody in this country who got rich on their own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you. I can say this because I’ve never started or ran a business myself.

But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on roads that were paid for with money forcibly confiscated from the people. You hired workers that were educated in a forced monopoly system which is paid for with money seized from the people. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that are paid for with money forcibly extracted from the very people they protect. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory … unless you’re counting your own government.

Now look. You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea – God bless! Keep a hunk of it. Because I know better than you just how much of your own money you should be “allowed” to keep. Part of the underlying social contract – that you never agreed to – is that people like me forcibly confiscate a hunk of the wealth you gave your blood, sweat, and tears to create and give it to the next kid who comes along – so they can have their wealth forcibly confiscated too.

Doesn’t sound so wise now, does it? Another thing that is really, um, “interesting” about her quote is that she says “the rest of us”, as if business owners didn’t pay taxes for all the things she talks about. If in fact all that taxes actually paid for were those things, we’d be talking about tiny little slivers, instead of hunks. But instead they often pay for politicians’ pork projects, making those who exert influence on the government rich. So maybe she is right. Nobody gets rich on their own – they need a politician’s help for that!

A Different Way to Think About Freemium

free-managed-services.jpgOftentimes, I find that entrepreneurship and liberty are inexorably intertwined. Sometimes, even the terminology used seems to hint at this unalienable truth. A shout out to Amanda at amandabillyrock.com for bringing up a discussion about the freemium business model. I’ve recently discovered her online and I must say her writing reads as if they are thoughts coming from my own mind. Check her out if you haven’t already.

I won’t go into too much detail about the freemium model or argue the merits. Lots of other people have done that. But core to the model is the idea that information is given away for free, in order to develop a following and establish oneself as a category authority.

Of course, “free” as in pricing is different than “free” as in liberty. Yet for many, the belief that information should be free covers both cost and availability. This is one place where entrepreneurship and liberty intersect.

Certainly I believe that the free flow of information is the greatest gift the Internet has given us. The decision to get paid for information I leave up to each individual. But in the age of the Internet, consider the following. Those who set information free are viewed in higher regard. Perhaps one day we will look at the liberation of information as a turning point in human history.

You’re the President – Man Up or Step Aside

Obama CluelessWe are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate. – Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal

As usual, please read my Obligatory Obama Disclaimer if you haven’t already.

While many apologists are dismissing the above quote from the Wall Street Journal, the reality is that the last couple of weeks have been unprecedented in the number of scandalous events to hit a presidential administration. While any single one may not be technically bigger than Watergate (at least from what we currently know), the series of events shows a potential scale of corruption in a presidential administration unmatched in the history of our country.

The next point apologists bring up is that we have no evidence that Barack Obama had anything to with any of these scandals, or any of the previous scandals that now require careful re-examination. Whatever the issue (pick your poison: Fast and Furious, Bengazhi, the IRS abuse of power, or the Justice Department wiretapping journalists’ phones), the president has steadfastly denied any knowledge of the improprieties. This leaves us two possibilities: Either Obama is lying – or he is one of the most incompetent presidents in history.

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Barack Obama holds the office of president of the United States. His job is to run the executive branch of the federal government. He is the head honcho of the Justice Department, the State Department, and the IRS. He is the one who appoints the heads of those individual departments, but just like any chief executive, ultimately the operation and actions of all those departments are his responsibility. Let’s not gloss over that word: responsibility. Assuming he wasn’t directly in charge of ordering the various misconducts or poor decisions that his departments carried out, as head of the executive branch, the fault still fundamentally falls on his shoulders. Regardless of all the posturing going on by politicians all all sides, the bottom line is that Barack Obama has NOT accepted any responsibility for those under his administration.

While the conduct of the various departments in discussion are all inexcusable, the biggest scandal to me is the outright refusal of Obama to own up to even a shred of fault. One of the core principles of leadership is to take responsibility for the actions of those they lead. Obama has up to this point only offered to take action against those who he thinks will end up being at fault. Not once have I heard him say publicly that as leader of those departments he is ultimately responsible and will accept any repercussions. And in his capacity as chief executive, I certainly have not heard him apologize for the actions of those departments.

Bottom line, however these scandals play out, the undeniable reality is that instead of acting like a leader, Obama chose to defer responsibility to his subordinates. That is irrefutable fact. Those are the actions of a coward. Unless he reverses course and accepts responsibility for the actions of his administration, Obama has abdicated his duty. Ultimately, the people of this country are his superiors. It is time to live up to our mistakes and accept our own responsibility. So I do now: Mr. President, if you can not effectively lead and accept responsibility for the faults of your own administration, please tender your resignation immediately.

If Not Us, Who? If Not Now, When?

Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it.

An awesome quote from the movie Braveheart. Seems fitting here.

The best way to make a movement, if you really care, is to courageously follow and show others how to follow. - First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy

Those who regularly read this blog may have noticed that I haven’t written on the topic of liberty for several months. There are a few reasons for this. To be honest, I sort of needed a break after the election season (and the somewhat depressing outcomes). Then life and work got in the way. Once I stop writing on a topic, it’s a bit hard for me to start back up at times.

However, I am easily triggered to write when I feel I need to respond to something. So while I wasn’t writing on this blog, I was writing various responses to some postings on Facebook. I’m sure some of you know the feeling of standing up for what you believe. At times it feels like being a Spartan at the Battle of Thermopylae, standing alone against a seemingly unstoppable horde.

But surprisingly, following a few comments where I was the lone voice in support of freedom, I received some private messages encouraging my opinions. I’d like to share a couple of those:

heya. we have a mutual friend, (name withheld). I wanted to drop you a private message to say how much I appreciate your thoughtful, articulate comments. I avoid politics on fb at all cost… it just never ends up well. Most typically just want to have their beliefs validated and reflected back… and most of my fb friends are left of center. I’ve witnessed A LOT of ‘interesting’ posts on (name withheld)’s wall and just bite my tongue. Anyway, I wanted to thank you for voicing basic, conservative ideas in a calm and thoughtful way. cheers!

And another

I read your replies on (name withheld)’s status….all I can say, ROCKSTAR!!!! I could read your responses all day long!

It felt really good to get some validation; to reinforce the fact that I am not alone in my ideals. Yet, it is frustrating to know that people who believe like I do stay quiet. Most keep quiet out of fear. Fear of standing out. Fear of voicing a dissenting opinion. Fear of making waves. Fear of alienating friends or clients. I get that. For a long time I had the same fears. But eventually I grew tired of sitting on the sidelines. I could no longer sit idle and not stand up for my beliefs. What I’ve found is that even though you run the risk of alienating some people, you will draw in closer those who share your beliefs. And you have just as much chance of gaining the respect of many, even if they hold different opinions.

Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it.

In light of recent events, it has become increasingly obvious that the traditional mainstream media has failed us. However, The New World of Technology lays out an incredible opportunity before us and, I believe, a corresponding responsibility. If traditional media is not serving our best interests, it is up to us to pick up the slack. Social media allows us to disseminate information in ways never before possible. Where in the past we were somewhat beholden to big media to get our information, the Internet and now social media has given us access to a plethora of new sources of information – and more importantly – the ability to spread that information on our own.

I bring this up because I believe the time is now for those who believe in individual freedom and responsibility to speak up. It is time to show the country that there is a tidal wave of support for liberty and small government ideals. We can no longer afford to keep quiet. We no longer have the luxury of complacency. The good news is it doesn’t take much to get this tidal wave started. Every little thing can help. Simply posting your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter is a start. Post news articles from non-mainstream sources that counter the traditional media biases. Question everything. Stand up for freedom. The more you do it, the more others are encouraged to do it. If you watch the first follower video on YouTube, you will see this process in action.

The country is in your hands. Do you have what it takes to build a movement? Do you have the courage to be one of the first followers?

It’s Easy To “Invest” Other People’s Money

Crony CapitalismOne of the themes of the various speakers at the Democratic National Convention is that we need to invest in the country. Yes, of course we need investment in infrastructure, education, scientific and technological research, etc., etc. But why is that the job of government, much less the federal government? Is it not better for free people to make their own decisions on when and how to invest their own money? Is it not right for free people to freely choose to invest in the things they think will create the most benefit? Certainly this is better than allowing a select few politicians to forcibly take the money of others and dole it out to their political favorites. This is still the land of the free, right?

For all the talk about rigged games, leveling of playing fields, fairness, and not playing by a special set of rules, isn’t what they are proposing completely contrary to those ideals? Talk about playing by your own set of rules. Isn’t what they are proposing crony capitalism at its worst? After all, the money they claim they will use to “invest in our future” is simply money they forcibly took from us. It’s money that we can no longer invest ourselves. It’s money out of our pockets that we can no longer put towards our children’s education. It’s vital capital that can no longer grow our small businesses. They aren’t growing the economy. They are simply shifting money from those that earned it to those that have the most political influence.

By claiming that only government can make the needed investments in America’s future, aren’t they basically saying that we free people aren’t smart enough to take care of ourselves? That we aren’t wise enough with our own hard-earned wealth to know what to invest in? That the few of them are smarter than the rest of us? Aren’t they basically saying we can’t be trusted with our own wealth? Because if so, they are ultimately saying that we can’t be trusted with our own freedom.

Obama – That Seat’s Earned, Not Taken

Obama - That Seat's Earned, Not Taken

That Seat’s Earned, Not Taken

Barack Obama’s Twitter page just posted this picture in response to Clint Eastwood’s “empty chair” routine at the Republican National Convention. The caption in the post was, “This seat’s taken.” Respectfully, Mr. President, that seat’s earned, not taken.