Tag Archives: Politics

Libertarians: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Yo mon, I'm just in de party for da pot

I know a few people who are die-hard libertarians; in fact, I work with at least one. Libertarians are the renegades, the people that really go against the current of popular politics, but sometimes I don’t think people know what it really means to be Libertarian. There is a quiz on the libertarian website that’s very simple, only around 10 or so questions. It’s so simple in fact that the average person regardless of party affiliation would probably rank libertarian. I know I did, but each question of the quiz left me asking my own questions.

Sure, each one sounded pretty damn good, but so do wishes granted by genies. Only after the wish is granted does one truly understand the consequences of said wish. For example, wishing to be the richest person alive may sound great when you say it, but when you wish for riches you don’t specify how you will obtain the money… if you actually obtain any money at all. See where this is going? You may have just wished for the collapse of the entire global economy and you’re the only one that retains any net worth.

Well the same could be said for what libertarians stand for. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of their ideas sound fantastic! Imagine living in a world that’s truly free. If you’re like the average American, you’ve just painted a Utopian picture in your head, but alas, I’m the person that over-analyzes and over-speculates… for good reason!

Let’s take these questions apart and compare them to actual libertarian views. I’m not going to sugar-coat any of this. I’m going to tell it to you like it is, stating the pros and the cons of libertarianism.

1) Government should not censor speech, press, media, or internet.

Most people, if you aren’t completely batshit insane will choose “agree.”

Let’s look at the other side of this issue, Libel and Slander. Libertarians aren’t even in agreement with themselves how such delicate matters would be handled, if at all. Imagine, you’ve finally got a free market society and you’ve established a rather successful restaurant that just so happens to compete with another. All of the sudden sales drop, and customers are scarce, but you aren’t sure why.

You read the newspaper and discover a number of people stepped forward, claiming to have been sickened by the food your restaurant served. Since there are now few regulations for businesses, there may be no federal or state regulation on goods and services, especially in the food industry. If someone claims your restaurant is a rat-turd infested cesspool of salmonella and Ebola, well there’s no way to disprove that except by word of mouth.

You could jump through the hoops of damage control, but by this point the damage has already been done. Your business closes and you are now up the creek without a paddle. Later on, you find out that the  twenty or so people that made claims of food poisoning were hired by your rival to destroy your business. There is no law against this, it’s a completely free market. Libertarians are under the impression that as people gain more liberties, they also gain more empathy and compassion…

They also smoke a lot of weed, which would account for the blatant naivety… or just not giving two shits to think it through. So, in case you didn’t bother to read all of the above, anyone can slander your name or place of business, and the libertarian rule of thumb is to let karma sort it all out.

Now, do I agree that government should not censor speech, press, media or the internet? OF COURSE! But once again, we need common sense and respect for one another to live in that type of world. So until then, keep libel and slander censored. You can’t take government completely out of the picture here, especially if the libertarian party is advocating a completely (for real) free society.

2) Military service should be voluntary. There should be no draft.

Once again, most people would say “agree!” I also agree with this; plus, libertarians would cut defense spending so much that there would be a dramatic decrease in the amount of military officials needed. Right now the US military isn’t so much protecting us as they are protecting the financial interests of our corporate overlords. There is absolutely ZERO reason our military should be invading anywhere. We are not defending, we are offending and taking. We’ve been doing that for years under false information fed to the general public.

This is where I agree with the libertarians. We can’t afford our military, but it’s coming out of our pockets anyways. We are paying for the interests of the ones that really control this country. Do a bit of research and figure this out for yourselves. I know a lot of people who are so obstinate when it comes to discussing our nation’s “defense” budget. A lot of them have family active in the military, and sleep soundly at night under the false notions their loved one could be killed or maimed in the worst way imaginable in defense of our freedom.

It’s all horseshit, and you are incredibly ignorant if you believe otherwise.

Also, since the inventions of intercontinental missiles and unmanned drones (now monitoring us by the way), there will probably never be a need for another military draft. We have the capability to fly a half-ton cruise missile up a moving target’s asshole from anywhere in the world. I think deploying thousands of 18 year old meat shields on the battlefield is a thing of the past.

3) There should be no laws regarding sex for consenting adults.

Couldn’t agree more. The conservative idea that government should stay out of business but keep a stranglehold on our private parts is not only laughably absurd, it’s also a blatant contradiction to their idea of “small government.” The only reason government is making laws regarding any of this is to put on a sort of real-life political Jerry Springer show to appease the hopelessly stupid that make up a startlingly large portion of our voting population.

It’s an embarrassment to this country and to the image of US citizens. People all around the 1st world already think we’re a country of complete imbeciles, but the more we continue to allow politicians to focus on these trivial and divisive issues, the more we look like a country of bigoted knuckle-dragging subhumans to more sophisticated and liberal nations. Everyone should be granted the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. Period. Sounds pretty damn simple doesn’t it? You’d think as a nation of simple-minded people we’d prefer simple policies.

You’d think, anyways.

4) Repeal laws prohibiting adult possession and use of drugs.

People are 50/50 on this, mainly because some drugs make people do crazy things. So how do you determine if all drugs should be legal or just some? What are the lines here? Libertarians don’t know, and nor do I think they’ve thought it all the way through. When it comes to drugs in their natural form like mushrooms, cocaine (not chemically processed in any way), marijuana, opium, tobacco, etc… I don’t see why any of that should be illegal or controlled. If someone wants to grow a garden of pleasure for themselves and friends to enjoy, that should be fine.

But how do you regulate controlled substances like hydrocodone and Xanax, synthetic drugs like meth and “bath salts.” Would this also be a free-for-all venture as well? Would society be better off if something that was restricted was available to the masses with no restrictions or regulations? The general consensus is that like a person hitting 21 and drinking for the first time, the coolness factor gets old pretty fast, and if you’re not genetically prone to alcoholism, it becomes something you may do once or twice a week instead of every night.

However, alcohol isn’t quite like heroine, meth or crack. These are drugs that once you use them, there is no build-up to full-blown addiction. All it takes is one or two times and that’s it, you’re life is fucked. Now don’t get me wrong, natural drugs can be just as bad and lead to dangerousneglectful or even abusive behavior, but synthetic drugs CAUSE PEOPLE TO EAT OTHER PEOPLE’S FACES. You can’t repeal laws prohibiting drug use and possession unless you specify.

And also let’s face it, do people really think the general public is truly capable of wielding this sword? There is a quote that says “I’m not saying we should kill all stupid people. I’m just saying we should remove warning labels and let the problem sort itself out.”

I’m not asking what YOU would do if all illegal drugs were made legal; I’m asking you to think about what would everyone else do. Couple this with Libertarian confusion over where child protective services lie, and we could have a bit of an issue on our hands. But what’s a few hundred-thousand still-born crack babies and neglected children to the rest of us in this free society?

Now I know if people want to do drugs, they will find a way to do them. Making it easier to access certain drugs doesn’t help the situation either.

Putting drug-users in prison isn’t helpful either. All prison does is make criminals out of people that weren’t criminals before. There’s a bit of a conundrum for you. How do you go about fixing this problem while having no federal or state funding to do it? You could rely on the kindness of the community, or you could be realistic and wake up to the fact that humanity doesn’t work this way. It never has. Even back during the settlement era, tight-knit communities still burned each other at the stake or left their elderly and sick to die in the woods.

A free-for-all society is just that. If you have drug problem, it’s your problem and your family’s problem. It’s not going to solve any crime problems, if anything, it will add more fuel to the fire.

5) There should be no National ID card.

This was a question that had me thinking about men wearing tin-foil hats, but then I thought about the question. They aren’t talking about state-issued ID’s here, they are talking about mark-of-the-beast type stuff. It’s completely unnecessary, and it only adds to the xenophobic tenancies of the average American. How much do you actually want to give up to feel “safe?” Let me tell you something, you aren’t any safer now than you were in 2001 or 1993 or whenever any other terrorist group got a wild hair up their asses and did something terrible.

That’s really all I want to say about this. If you want to read more about the whole national ID spiel that never happened but “could,” (no not really, but perhaps!), then go here.

6) End “corporate welfare.” No government handouts to business.

Sounds good! In fact, in a libertarian-run country there would have been no reason for corporate hand-outs at all. There would be no income tax, no restrictions on free trade, no regulations. Why on earth would they need handouts… unless they failed.

But wait…

What if that company employs half a town or a large chunk of a county in a state? What happens to the people that worked for that company? Then what happens to the companies that depend on those people’s incomes in that town or city? Didn’t we just go through this in the “Great Recession” tumble-down economics of failing corporations leading to failing small businesses leading to an economy working in reverse?

Let’s face it, in either situation the little guy loses, but in a country that offers virtually no help to the unemployed, what’s a poor, unemployed bloke to do? The Libertarian plans to eliminate this problem by letting the free market do what it does best, create jobs. But if you have no demand because there were massive layoffs, how do you increase the demand for employment? Oh, well we’ll just let the chips fall where they may.

I agree with ending corporate welfare, but I don’t agree with the “sink or swim” method either. Sometimes bailouts work sometimes they fail. However, surprisingly no one is ever held accountable. I guess the corporation itself could be held accountable and disciplined accordingly, after all they are US citizens now.

7) End government barriers to international free trade.

This sounds freaking awesome, doesn’t it? It sounds good because we don’t really know the long-term effects this will have on our economy. From what I’ve read, the good outweighs the bad, and it’s all speculation anyways.

8) Let people control their own retirement; privatize Social Security.

I’m in the middle here as well. Social Security works… kind of. It wasn’t really supposed to be a permanent thing, rather an emergency placeholder to give us time to seek other avenues. Look at the way Social Security is structured. You are forced to pay a percentage of your income toward someone else’s retirement, and those people that are now collecting social security paid for a generation before them to retire. This is because of inflation.

Obviously if you were paid $1.50 an hour back in the 50’s (which was a decent wage back in the day, comparable to about $14-$18 an hour today), you put a percentage of that into social security. Obviously as inflation occurs and wages increase, what you put into retirement during those years isn’t going to do much for you when you retire. So, in order to fix that problem the next generation picks up the tab.

Now because of that, it’s very hard to stop this nonsense. All that money you are putting into social security is going to be gone when the system either collapses in on itself because of the exponential growth in population and inflation while wages barely increase, or it will be done away with and privatized. Either way, you’re paying for someone else’s retirement. That money that should be yours when you retire will not be there. I promise you, it will not.

So obviously government failed to come up with a solution to Social Security. Why not privatize it and let each individual take charge of their own financial security? Ask anyone who thought their 401k investment made enough money they’d be able to retire before the bear market.

Don’t get me wrong, there are advantages to playing the slots on wall-street, but don’t put too much faith in it when it comes to your retirement. The key to 401k or any stock is to buy low and sell high, obviously. If you bought low, and the stock you’ve chosen is trending well, you could be set for the rest of your senility, and still have a nice fat inheritance to leave the kiddies when you bite the big one.

HOWEVER, if the stocks in your mutual fund were trending upward during your working career and the economy tanks 1 week before retirement, you’re fucked until the market recovers, or you reinvest in something that may work during and after the recession… but in worst cases you have to start all over again.

I’ve always been a big fan of saving money for retirement (savings, IRA’s), but again in this face-paced materialistic society we live in, putting the amount of money we need to away is a lot harder than you think, especially when the inevitable disaster happens and you have to dip into those precious savings accounts. We are a society where a lot of us have negative net worth, low pay, and a pretty pessimistic view of our futures. Right now, with 2012 upon us, some don’t think we’ll make it to next year.

I guess the conclusion to this would be at least you have a choice where your money goes. Right now uncle Sam wants you to pay social security and you damn well better like it.

9) Replace government welfare with private charity.

Again, naivety of the libertarian party thinking human beings are instinctively charitable. Right now, if you’re sitting here thinking of joining the libertarian movement, and you clicked “agree” so hard you broke your mouse, you are probably sick of all those lazy good-for-nothing black/hispanic/white trailer trash bottom-feeders sucking away your hard-earned money because they keep squirting out kids and won’t get jobs.

You’ve already made the decision that you’re sick of providing charity to these people, am I right? Okay so the average hard-working Joe isn’t going to be providing handouts to these supposed failures of humanity (generalizing here, not saying all people on welfare are failures… just most of them). You could say the Catholic charities could pick up the slack, but with the absence of welfare, there would be such a strain on resources, the churches would have to opt for silver everyday creature comforts instead of solid gold ones. The church not-so-humbly declines. This leaves corporate citizens and individual philanthropists to help those poor, poor hopeless people.

But wait, why would they do that now? No income tax means no need for tax deductions. Things aren’t looking good for Consuela, Manuello and their 7 screaming kids the government no longer pays for. So… yeah. What happens now? I mean, people will obviously stop breeding when they can’t afford it, but what about those already sucking the life-teat of the social welfare system? How would you keep track of this if you tapered it off, but cut the amount of the bureaucratic douche bags in charge of dolling out those undeserved checks every month?

Now, what about people on disability (like my mother for example who has a gaping pus-filled hole in her stomach due to some careless and unskilled surgeon). You know, people that have worked all their lives but ended up with some kind of debilitating disease or injury? Charity? That’s okay, their already burdened kids will take care of them, pay for their medical bills, treatments, medications.

Let’s face it, this will fail too. There NEEDS to be social safety nets for people that legitimately need them. I guess that’s the bleeding heart liberal in me. Granted this question said welfare, but if you read what libertarians want, it’s total freedom from the government. No taxes, no social programs. No medicaid, medicare, disability, welfare, food stamps… none of that.

You are always going to have the soulless waste of human life gaming the system and living off of government assistance when they are perfectly capable of making their own money. But then there are those that will probably end up dying because there is nothing they can do about it. I’m not seeing a more charitable society here. I’m seeing a society where the have-nots will descend into anarchy, become desperate, hijack public transit and drive them into buildings. That’s what I’d probably do in that situation, provided I had the money for bus fare.

10) Cut taxes and government spending by 50% or more.

Sounds great, until you realize what they are cutting. And also, unless you are generating revenue through taxes, you won’t have any money to spend. If you abolish federal taxes, you’ve done away with federal programs. If you cut state, local and sales tax, you’ve just gutted your police, fire fighters and school system. But that’s okay, if you’re libertarian, you believe that education is NOT free, and agree to pay for your child’s education.

This could also lead to privatized police and fire fighters, even privatized military. By this point though, the US constitution is nothing more than a pretty piece of paper behind fancy glass. If the government loses power, it definitely will not shift to the people. Or maybe it will…

Libertarians think that the constitution, like the Bible, is set in stone. What the forefather’s wanted is still relevant today, and while that is the case with our basic principles, the constitution is amended all the time. It is a constantly changing thing.

In conclusion (thank God, because I’m extremely tired), the libertarian part will never be taken seriously because none of their policies are anywhere near thought out. The US will probably never be ready for a libertarian (Oligarchy) government, even if the entire country collapsed tomorrow.

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The New Face of Republican Politics

Faith, Family, and Fucked Up!      We’ve seen some rather interesting things happen in the field of politics in just these last couple months alone. We saw Bachmann back out, and the start of a new holy war waged from the right. Say goodbye to news on the 99%, because now women are the ones under fire. This is actually very good news indeed! Well, not for the women mind you, but overall. It means the economy is improving, and the right finally has much more opportunity to present America with a clear picture of their social agenda. I must say, from what I’ve seen and read, it is nothing short of spectacular!

A little time-travel if I may:

When John McCain was the nominee for president in 2007, the American people decided they had had enough of republican garbage. After all, look at what they did to this country. That’s not to say democrats didn’t double dip into policies that made this country worse off as well during this period, but the aftermath of hurricane Dubyah left a very bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, and it also, for the first time, scared the crap out of everyone that could vote. It would explain the historical turnout to the polls that fateful November.

Obama, who I voted for, used this awesome time in politics to harness that fear and change it to “hope” and, well, change. Obviously I and a lot of other independents out there didn’t really believe everything he promised, but when I look at a potential leader for our nation, sadly… I have to go with the “lesser of two evils” strategy. I weighed the pro’s and con’s of each candidate, and made my decision soundly. I had two options: a young, black civil rights attorney from Illinois, or an older-than-dirt white ex-naval officer from Arizona with a vice-presidential running-mate who’s head popped off every time she spoke.

What I was really deciding was “black lawyer, or bat-shit insane mid-western mom who very well could become president if McCain bites it.” The choice was obvious… I had to go with the lawyer, and the lawyer won. This didn’t sit well with the republicans, especially those that would eventually break off and form the tea party. And so started a new kind of republican party! These people were appalled that their party was so disliked that they lost the presidency to a black man! Their solution? Push the party so far right that their potential nominees for president are so unelectable that their party once again loses not only the possibility of the white house, but another senate and house majority along with it.

The Grand Old Party received it’s first real face lift, and it looks something like this:

They should have stopped after Palin, but after a while, sensationalism becomes addictive. Who can we put in front of cameras that has the most shock value? Apparently what makes for good ratings hurts the seriousness of the campaign. We said our tearful farewells to Perry, Bachmann and Cain, who took the nation by storm last year. They played a good game and got a lot of attention, but after all was said and done, their torches were extinguished and they were expelled from the island.

Now we have four actual candidates garnering attention from the media: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich. That’s it. Those are the people we are left with, and while they are better than the aforementioned group of crazy (excluding Santorum), they still suck. I made a promise that Newt would never again darken a doorway in Washington, and I’d like to once again reassure you that Mr. Gingrich will not be a presidential hopeful. I honestly can’t believe he’s still hanging on. Being a living contradiction to everything he stands for, he’s still amusingly latched on to this campaign like a pit bull on a leg.

Ron Paul has a few good things going for him that may make him actually electable… to libertarians, but some of the things he stands for politically are just too far left for the GOP. Also, no one really knows for sure what skeletons he’s hiding in those catacombs of his, because aside from those early racist newsletters, being liberal about certain things, and ridiculous commercials, no one really pays that much attention to him. By the way, those commercials should say a lot about how this man views the average American. It may not be a far cry from the truth that a good majority are complete morons, but it’s kind of insulting to me at least. Since the economy is doing better, let’s take a look at a bit of what he wants this country to focus on (keep in mind, not all of them are bad stances, but they are nails in his coffin as a republican candidate):

– Let’s abolish income tax!

– The US was better off before the civil rights movement. Wait, was the camera on?

– Let’s let the states decide what rights their citizens can have. Why make a federal case about it?

– War on drugs? Waste of money. Leave that to the states.

– I’m pro-life, but… we should let the states decide.

– I don’t like war! War is bad.

– Life begins at conception, well, because I feel that’s what they want me to say.

– What is this paper money we carry around? I demand golden American deblumes!

– Marriage is kind of stupid in any circumstance. Shouldn’t be a federal case.

– Job creators forced to provide non-discriminatory equal pay? Over my dead and rotting corpse!

Mitt Romney is a guy that just won’t go away, no matter how much his own party and the rest of the American people make it clear they hate him. This is what happens when bored multimillionaires play politics. They can keep going for years, like underground coal fires. He’s someone that will say just about anything to get that presidential nomination, but it seems that no amount of money can erase his checkered past, or get people to look away from how he made his money in the first place. Oh hell no, not in this economy!

Did I also mention he’s Mormon? It’s probably worth noting, but it’s not the big deal Fox News would have everyone believe. I mean, have you seen the evangelical and Catholic candidates lately? For the first time in my life, I’m starting to actually not hate Mormons.

I said “starting to,” let’s not go crazy here.

When you put a Mormon next to someone like, say, Santorum, you begin to notice that perhaps the Mormons aren’t the really crazy ones after all. Did you know that Mormons can use birth control? Did you also know that once upon a time, Mitt Romney supported Planned Parenthood? That really shouldn’t surprise you, because remember, Republican and Democrat should be complete polar opposites in 2012! Anything that is defined as liberal in the slightest is terrible, and Romney had to flip that flop to make it fly!

Let’s take a look at what Mitt Romney stands for:

– Well, the winds are blowing out of the northeast, the temperature is around 60 degrees… it’s a Sunday and it is February. Perhaps it’s best not to say anything until next month when the weather is a bit warmer and his stances shift to accommodate that.

I had to save the best for last, Rick Santorum. Michelle Bachmann had NOTHING on this guy when it comes to being completely insane, and possibly becoming a candidate! Everyone who watches the news lately knows where this guy stands on social issues. Like a tree that’s standing by the water, he shall not be moved! Being a gay liberally-leaning guy, you can bet I’ll be biased when it comes to GOP candidates, but this is my guy right here. I’m counting on Santorum to get that nomination, because when that happens, all bets are off… if you were betting on a republican white house in 2013 that is. Even republican voters that haven’t fled the party will look at this guy and then look at Obama and weep as they cast their ballots. Let’s look at where Santorum stands on the “issues:”

– Contraception is not only evil, it’s dangerous!

– Abortions make me cry, but child poverty not so much.

– A child would be better off having parents in prison, possibly being sodomized themselves, rather than having gay parents.

– Do I even have to announce my stance on gay marriage?

– It’s okay to bully and torment gay people! I mean, legally it may not be, but I’ll look the other way.

– It’s okay to discriminate against gay employees.

– It’s okay for corporations to ship jobs overseas with no penalty

– I’m pro-life… just not for people on death row.

– We should take all the money we use to regulate business and use them to fight wars on drugs and contraception!

– If you want your children to have a good education, home school them, like I did! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to cut your school’s funding and put it where it really counts! Abstinence education!

– If your school allows prayer, you can have that federal funding for actual classrooms instead of trailers. That whole separation of church and state thing doesn’t really mean anything.

– Environment? HA! My seven children don’t need to see forests or have non-toxic drinking water!

– I love lobbyists!

– I’m for ID when registering to vote, but not so much for gun purchase.

– Take your medicare and shove it!

– I, like many other Christians, am very pro-war!

– No raises in minimum wage! You’ll just buy birth control with it!

– I agree with Bush 98% of the time, but I say when I don’t.

– Wall Street will own your retirement! Down with Social Security!

And you know what’s sad? I’m not over-exaggerating this. This is what the GOP has put before the Obama administration, which means Obama really doesn’t even have to try to campaign. When you look at the sorry state of disarray the GOP is in, it’s hard not to feel pity. There is no sane alternative to Obama, just this. When did this party get so extreme and totally lose touch with not only America but modern civilization? I really do hope that one day the party will turn around and both sides can keep things in check (and actually get things accomplished) with compromises. It’s OKAY for either side to drift left or right if the policies make sense and are good for the growth and well-being of our nation. What we have right now is a total disaster, and it’s all on the right.

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Rome wasn’t built in a day…

It may not have been built in a day, but its decline may as well have happened over night. It’s no surprise that people are starting to notice parallels between the United States and the mighty Roman Empire, and it doesn’t matter which way you swing politically, the stark reality is staring us in the face as history once again makes fools of the human race.

Spanish philosopher George Santayana once said, “those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It’s such a simple, yet incredibly clever quote that had just as much relevance in his time as it does in ours today. Human beings are relatively quick to forget lessons learned from the past, simply because those lessons were learned first-hand by a completely different generation. Those that lived through The Great Depression are dying out as the US cusps ever closer to a second one. The way the game is played has changed little, and the spark of our recession is startlingly similar to what drove the United States’ economy full-speed off a cliff in 1929.

Did we honestly think it couldn’t happen again just because we had a bull market for almost two decades? When investor confidence is up, it’s easy to throw caution to the wind and ignore a very basic principle of a free market system: it’s never really free. You can’t get something for nothing, but that’s exactly what we were doing from the 80’s onward. There was once a time when you could pay off a brand-new home in your 20’s-30’s while earning a reasonable living wage. Very little was purchased with credit, and things that were purchased with credit had very reasonable and affordable interest rates.

Somehow we went from a society that worked hard, saved, and was able to actually obtain and OWN the American dream to a society that is not only in debt, but is financially and socially incapable of getting out of it. We got a lot of things for nothing, and nothing is precisely what a lot of Americans have to show for it today. It’s easy to lay the blame on the consumer, but it takes a creeping malevolence to undermine and pervert the notion of obtaining the American dream in such a passive way that no one knew until it was too late. The malignancy was small, but the cancer spread from Wall Street to corporation to government.

If you catch cancer early, it can be controlled or even cured. If you catch it too late, your body begins to shut down. We’re definitely two decades too late, and this isn’t going away anytime soon, not without some amputations.

But that was just one example of completely disregarding the past. Let’s take a look at our great, great, great, great grandfather Rome. No one can deny the power and greatness of the Roman empire. It had the world’s best military. It was the second world republic (after Greece). It had a thriving economy (using slave labor to obtain most of it). They built some of the most impressive roads, buildings, aqueducts, sewer systems… my God, it was pristine and way ahead of its time. Who knows how technologically advanced they would have been had they not “accidentally” burned down the library of Alexandria.

But all was not well in Rome. It was too big and too diverse, which meant it was a lot harder to control with a centralized government. This gave way to major corruption and gross, uneven wealth distribution. Sound familiar? That was the first problem, the second problem was the decline of the military, which ties into the first problem. When you have prolonged military presence in foreign lands, the costs to maintain that presence coupled with the cost of expansion (even through conquest) leads to eventual decay. Could this happen in a world where it takes days, not months, to travel from one end of the globe to the other? The Roman military often settled where they conquered, which further segregated and decentralized Rome. Obviously our troops aren’t going to start new lives in the middle east, but look at what this prolonged military presence is costing the country.

Military decay wasn’t the only reason an empire as great as Rome fell. The wealthy began hoarding bullion (silver used as currency), and large amounts of impure currency was minted and distributed, which caused massive inflation. Goodness, that does sound familiar. Trade between the eastern half and western half of Rome began to decline. How much does the US actually export to other countries, and at the same time, how many goods are actually made in this country to supply a demand… in this country? Take a look at where most of your products are manufactured and draw your own conclusions. That wasn’t all that aided in the collapse of the Roman economy. The barbarians also plundered the coffers, and basically left Rome for broke. This is kind of similar to what the wall street barbarians, I mean barons are doing today.

Religion! Oh here we go again with religion being the root of all evil. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but it’s no coincidence the decline of the Roman empire began to really take off after the Romans not only tolerated Christianity, but made it an official religion! Thanks Constantine. That’s really all it took to shift the power from Emperors to the pontiff. Once Christianity spread like disease among the people, those that held the religious trump card became the new rulers of Rome. Not saying that religion didn’t exist before Christianity, but there was a reason why this particular religion was feared and discriminated against in ancient Rome. Now, couple this newly found religion with the rise of Islam in the east, and you have a conflict of, well, biblical proportions. Two of the worst religions not only accounted for countless deaths, but also had a hand in plunging the civilized world into the Dark Ages.

We are seeing a rise in this same theocracy that helped doom Rome in the United States today. It’s amazing that after almost 2,000 years, we’re back to this dark blotch in human history. Picture this, if the roles of Islam and Christianity were reversed, if Islam was this nation’s religion and Christianity was contained in the middle east, the roles of these religions would be reversed. You would have Christians blowing themselves up and Muslims trying to control every uterus and bedroom in the US today. This is not speculation here, because all of this has happened before! Christians, when given the chance can be just as volatile and violent as Muslims. I like to think of these people of faith as having hive mentality, and no real mind of their own.

And the final nail in Rome’s coffin was division. One of my favorite presidents once said “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” You had western Rome under two radically different rulers and eastern Rome in the same boat. In this country, we are not divided by geography, but rather by political partisan. It has gotten so out of hand that we’re as ineffective a nation as Rome was as two. One side of Rome succeeded for a while longer, but still eventually fell. Which side will succeed in the US, and does one extreme stand a chance at bringing this nation out of despair, or prolong its inevitable collapse? I’m going to say the latter. We need both political parties, because these once gave voice to people who didn’t have one. We may even need a third political party to balance the two out, something completely middle ground. Then again, we may already have them as Independents, which seems to be growing in popularity as people become disgusted with the political side they’ve once had no choice but to take.

As gloom and doom as this may seem, we have something Rome didn’t, which may be our saving grace. We have history to teach us the lessons of our past, and we have the capability to learn and adapt based on observation. The circumstances of Rome’s decline were culturally different, but fundamentally similar to what is happening in this nation today… and perhaps the world. We cannot repeat these mistakes and expect to still evolve into something better than we were. Right now is a pivotal moment in our existence. Apocalypse is said to be a time of enlightenment, something happens that makes everyone stand up and take notice and become better. Cyclical apocalypses only occur when we become comfortable with ignorance and close our minds to the consequences.

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Should super obese children be taken from their families?

I remember a few years ago watching the news about not-so-little Jessica, the 420 pound 7 year old who topped the scales as the fattest child in the world. Everyone, especially parents watched in horror as this little girl rolled around the floor to get from place to place and immediately began posting comments about it, mainly attacking Jessica’s mother. An overwhelming number of people cried out child abuse and demanded she be taken away from her parents before she literally ate herself to death. This was three years ago; however, recently in six states they are discussing creating laws that would give the state the right to take morbidly obese children away from their families and put into foster homes.

Here is where we should carefully consider the pros and cons. Right-winged conservatives are usually the first to cry out when there’s too much government involved in public affairs; however, they are also the first group of people that cry out that the government isn’t doing enough. When you look at it through a pair of clean glasses, both the extreme right and left want government meddling in our families. Now here is the question you should be asking yourselves: should the government have the right to take a child away if that child’s life and well-being are clearly in danger?

Absolutely! At least that’s what any sane person would stand up and shout. I know I stand the chance of throwing out the dreaded slippery slope here, but where do we draw the line?

Let’s take a look at the obesity epidemic:

Obesity has been on the top of the list of problems in America. One of the major concerns isn’t the well-being of the people in the US, it’s the cost of treating obesity related illnesses. In today’s 14 trillion dollar deficit, dollar signs have much more resonance in congress than coffins. This might outrage you, but you have to remember that America’s bottom line is all of our bottom lines.

Where the obesity problem lies may surprise you, or not depending on how observant you are. It’s not the wealthy who can afford enough food surplus to feed a small African country, no. The fattest people in the world are usually the poorest. But how could this be? According to the World Health Organization on childhood obesity (WHO),

“The problem [of childhood obesity] is global and is steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.… Globally, in 2010 the number of overweight children under the age of five, is estimated to be over 42 million. Close to 35 million of these are living in developing countries. Overweight and obese children are likely to stay obese into adulthood and more likely to develop noncommunicable diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age.”

I’m sure all of you have gone to the grocery store at least once in your lives, and I’m sure you’ve noticed how expensive food is. The cheapest foods are usually the most unhealthy, but you can buy them in bulk! Frozen, prepackaged meals, canned meats, potato chips, cookies, sodas and sugary drinks, quick boxed meals, canned entrees are all much cheaper and more convenient than fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, nuts, lean white meats, plain Greek yogurt, 100% fruit juices, and whole grains to name a few. Try shopping healthy one week using the same grocery budget, and you’ll find your shopping cart is much emptier than usual.

At what point should the government step in here? How do you regulate what people eat in a country where we are free to choose what to eat and when to eat it? If the price of processed foods and whole foods were reversed, would that deter people from buying unhealthy things? There are so many factors, one being that processed foods are made in such a way that once you start eating them, it’s really hard to stop. Portion sizes go unheeded, and saturated/trans fat and calorie consumption goes through the roof. Just one 12 ounce can of soda contains an equivalent 9 teaspoons of added sugar, 4 more teaspoons than is recommended for an 1800 calorie diet and 1 more that is recommended for a 2000 calorie diet per day.

Children are at the highest obesity risk now than they ever were with more marketing and advertisements targeting their age group. Couple this with video games, computers, and television which contributes more to a sedentary lifestyle. There is an incentive to eat more of the wrong stuff and no real need to stay active.

All what I just typed should be common knowledge by now, but there are still millions of people in the US alone that have no idea what really causes them to get fat. I know, insane! Jessica’s mother, when interviewed, admitted she had no idea her daughter’s weight would be so detrimental to her health. Something that seems like common sense to us may be completely foreign to these people.

Should that mother have her child taken away from her? Well, there are varying opinions here. I do not think the government has a right to take an obese child away from his or her parents. Many parents reward their children with food, or might stop off at McDonald’s after school every day not really thinking how what they are feeding their children will affect their physical well-being.

HOWEVER! I do believe it would be irresponsible of the state to allow a child that is obviously suffering to continue living that lifestyle without intervention. I believe overfeeding your children to the point of morbid obesity IS child abuse. Given the risks of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, hypertension, etc… it’s no different than starving your children or beating them unconscious. You are deliberately causing your child harm, albeit indirectly.

Taking children away from their families only causes more harm than good. You’re now trying to help the child physically by scarring him or her emotionally. They may be in really loving families, and they just don’t know any better. The state should see to it that the children AND parents are taught good nutrition. In extreme cases of obesity, like in Jessica’s, they were absolutely right in their decision to put the little girl in a weight loss camp while sending the mother to parenting courses. The girl has since then lost about 300 pounds, and the mother (who could use some nutrition advice herself), is now feeding her child healthy foods after nearly losing her little girl (not to the state, she nearly died).

How should the government go about dealing with parents who’s children are super obese? Where do we draw the line on obesity? Is it considered abuse to have an overweight child? To what extent should the state get involved that would best benefit the children? Whether you are right or left, you cannot deny that leaving these parents to their own devices could mean an early death for their children. On the other hand, too much state involvement could lead to the government instructing each parent how to raise their children according to state guidelines.

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