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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Take Responsibility, Take Control

A recent poll states that 60% of the population is fed up with congress.  Most people I've talked to have complained about the current direction of government.  What bothers me, and others like me, is that people are willing to complain and speak about what is wrong, but when asked what we can do to fix it, look like a deer in headlights.

The first thing we should do is vote for independent parties.  Every time.  In 2008 I pledged to never vote for a republican or democrat again.  I have stuck with it.  I voted yesterday in Minnesota's primary election, and voted a straight independent ticket.  The first thing people say to me when I tell them this is, "But you're throwing your vote away and giving it to the democrats."  I am not throwing my vote away.  My vote is mine to give.  No one party has a claim on it or a right to it.  If republicans and democrats do not represent my views, I would be doing a huge dishonor to my morals and values by giving them my vote.

What a lot of people don't understand is that the republicans and democrats have had control over the US government for over 200 years.  Sure, their names changed, but ultimately, these two parties have a monopoly on government.  They play themselves to the public as opponents on opposite ends of the spectrum, but that is not their true ideology.  Their one and only goal is to stay in power.  To accomplish that, they will work together.  In the 2008 election the republicans and democrats banded together to keep third parties out of the debates.  Anyone running for president has the right to participate in the debates, but they didn't let Bob Barr participate.

A recent article states that the Tea Party is winning in elections, but that they are costing republicans Senate seats.  This is the republican and democratic media teaming up against independent parties.  Republicans have no right to Senate seats.  Democrats have no right to Senate seats.  The only people who have a right to Senate seats are those we elect.

As citizens, we should be able to vote for whomever we choose.  Any candidate running for president should be on the ballot.  In 2008, the republicans and democrats joined hands once more to keep Bob Barr off of the ballot in five states.  Bob Barr was only on 45 state ballots.  I'm not endorsing Bob Barr, or saying he is the answer to all of our problems, I am pointing out how destructive the republicans and democrats are to our voting process and our freedom.

The second thing people say to me when I tell them that I vote for independents is, "An independent will never win."  That may or may not be true.  With our electoral college it is completely possible that no matter who we vote for as citizens, somebody else will be elected by the electors.  If everyone decided to vote independent, the electors may very well decided to put a democrat in office.  We won't know until it happens.  The primary reason for voting independent is to send a message to the republicans and democrats.  That message is, "You no longer represent America."

Can you imagine the uproar America would be in if the popular vote elected an independent, but the electors put in a democrat or republican?  Can you imagine the reaction of the republicans and democrats if they found out more and more votes were going to independents?  Do you think they might change their game-plan?  I am of the opinion that the republicans and democrats are too far gone to try and save.  I want America to open up their political system and let the citizens have more than two choices each election.

Competition is good.  Competition leads to progress, real, measurable progress.  Progress that doesn't raise taxes, progress that doesn't give handouts to the undeserving.  Politics is a none-competitive venture right now.  The health care vote passed.  I believe both parties wanted it passed, even though there was 'strong' republican opposition.  The only reason the republicans opposed it is so that the average American says, "Wow, the republicans opposed the health care bill.  I'll vote for them next election."  In reality, the republicans wanted the health care bill passed as much as the democrats did.  Why?  Because they want more power.  They don't have to worry about competitors, so they get bored and want more power.  They see themselves as kinds, gods even.

I did not vote for Obama, but we all elected him.  60% of us are upset with him, and yet he was elected.  I knew before the election that he was a socialist.  None of my friends believed me.  They do now.  As Americans, we need to take responsibility for this mess.  We elected him.  We have allowed them to take our freedoms away, we have allowed them to tax us, we have allowed them to rule us.  Our problem is not democrats.  Our problem is not republicans.  Our problem is democrats AND republicans.

Take responsibility.  Learn about candidates before going to the polls.  If you are tired of the direction our country has been going in since the Great Depression, vote independent, don't vote republican or democrat.  Republicans and democrats have taken us to where we are today, they will not save us.  Do you research, please be an informed voter.  If you are not informed, you are part of the problem.  Turn off CNN.  Turn off FOX.  They are both evil.  Think for yourself.  Vote independent.  Take responsibility.  Take control.

© 2010 Nate Phillipps

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Chicken Dinner

So... I almost got into a fight on Friday night, or really early Saturday morning, depending on how you look at it.  Just so you know, this was my first attempt at gambling.  I played blackjack with my brother and his girlfriend.  Armed with $20 in $1 chips, we sat down at a $3 table.  After watching for a bit, I started gambling.  The table was mostly full, and everyone was roughly my age or my brother's age.  We were all enjoying ourselves, laughing and joking.  Even our dealer, Toon, was great.

One of the players won on a $3 bet and said, "Winner winner, chicken dinner."  Toon replied, "You can't buy a chicken dinner with $3, maybe a chicken sandwich."  And that's how most of the night went.  Normally I'm not interested in gambling, but my brother enjoys it and I wanted to see what it was like.  It's not something I'd do often, but it can be enjoyable, if you're smart about it.  But this isn't a gambling blog, this is a political blog.

Near the end of the night, alright, around 4am, a guy came and sat down at the table.  He was drunk, a little older than me, and apparently full of bad luck that night.  He sat right next to me, on my right.  We were going along fine when he started saying, "What are you guys doing?! You stay on 12!  2 is the best card!"  He repeated this several times, much to the table's annoyance.  The next hand, I had 12 and the dealer had a 4 showing, which means odds are he has 14.  I hit.  This drove the guy nuts.  He was practically yelling, "You STAY on 12. If you stay on 12, everyone wins."

Unfortunately for him, I don't care if everybody wins.  I only care if I win.  The other players are not my opponents, at least not directly, but I receive no benefit from them winning if I lose.  My playing strategy for the night, and incedently for my life, was to play to win.  That strategy has no room for the consideration of other players.  With that said, I am not going to try and cheat them, or try to be mean to them, but I certainly will not play with the objective of them winning at my expense.  Would I like to see everybody win?  I don't measure myself by other people's wins and losses, so I don't really care.  We all sat down at that table knowing some might win and some might lose.

This guy just wasn't getting it, so I said, "You play how you want and we'll play how we want."

"Just listen to what I'm telling you..."

"I don't care," I said, cutting him off.

"No, just listen."

"I don't care," I repeated.

"Do you have an issue with me? Are we going to have a problem?" he asked angrily.

"No, it's $3 blackjack, I'm just here to have fun," I said firmly.

I thought he was going to ask me to step outside, but instead he shut up.  I later found out that at least two of the other people sitting at the table would have had my back, if things did end up out in the parking lot.  The guy kept mumbling, "Every fucking table," so apparently his 'tips' didn't go over so well at other tables either.

If I'm playing, I'm in it to win.  I am a good sport, but a fierce competitor.  Winning is my objective.  Winning is the objective of life.  How you measure that could by money, a family, friends, your job, or several other factors.  You cannot win at blackjack or life by putting other people first.  If I cared about the outcome of the other players, I would not have been able to take my $20 and turn it into $50, but I did.  I did it by hitting on 12, and now I can enjoy two chicken dinners, or ten chicken sandwiches.

© 2010 Nate Phillipps

The Rule Of Gold

I was asked, "Objectivsm is basically common sense. Why do you think so many people fail to use it, or understand it? Why is it not taught more? What would be the state of our country, if more people realized that their happiness is their obligation, and not mine?"

Objectivism is basically what it takes most people all their lives to figure out: that the only person you can rely on in life is yourself.  Being successful, or winning, feels good because it is right.  There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are better than someone else.  If you fail there is nothing to be ashamed of as long as you learned something.  People fail to use it, or understand it for several reasons; the first being that most people are lazy and stupid.  The second reason is that our public schools are run by the government, and the government desires citizens who are lazy and stupid.  If the population is lazy and stupid, then the government has free reign to tax, pass laws, etc.  No Child Left Behind was designed to make every child as dumb as the dumbest student.  The third reason is religion.  Christianity states, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself."  The Bahá'í Faith states, "Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself."  Judaism, "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself."  Taoism, "Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss."  As you can see, the them of putting other people's interests before your own is a common theme in religion.

Some people claim that these religious edicts are alterations of the golden rule.  The golden rule is to treat others as you want to be treated.  Nowhere in there does it say put others before yourself.  Objectivism takes that one step further and brings in a component of value.  Only items or services that have a value for you are to be sought, and something of value will be given in exchange.  People who aren't fair or valuable need not be dealt with.  An object's value derives from within you.  A certain book may not be worth much to others, but it might be worth over $100 to me.  If you don't like the book, you are under no obligation to buy it.  This is where the government and religion take the counterpoint role to Objectivism.

According to the government and religion, poor people are the responsibility of the wealthy.  According to Objectivism, the poor are their own responsibility just as the wealthy are only responsible for themselves.  Now, if you receive a value from helping poor people, be it monetary or pride, then it is a noble cause.  To pass a law or preach a doctrine that if you don't help poor people you are the scum of society, is completely wrong.  Objectivism is about doing what you want for reasons that you understand.  Slavery is about doing what other people want for reasons you do not understand.  The government, the schools, and the religious institutions want slaves.  No, they're not going to break out the whips and chains.  They do not want physical slaves, they want mental slaves.  They want control of our brains, our thoughts, and our feelings.  This is why more people do not see the value of Objectivism.  From birth they are told to love others more than they love themselves, that being selfish is evil, and that if you trust in God, the government, or any authority figure, you need or want will be provided.

Entitlement is for the weak, the lazy, the uninformed, the selfless.  If everyone realized their happiness was their own responsibility, we would live in a completely different society.  All this would take is for everyone to realize that their actions lead to consequences.  These consequences could be good or bad, but every action leads to some other action.  If you steal, you might be arrested.  If you work hard, you may be rewarded.  If people took responsibility for their own lives, there would be less whining, and I would have to buy less Advil.  Under the current system, this will never happen.

Right now I work for money and you work for money.  However, we are not being paid money.  We are being paid with fancy pieces of paper that are backed by nothing other than the word of the goverment.  The government tells us, "These pieces of paper are worth something, we promise."  The truth is they are worth nothing.  Our money is not backed by gold, silver, bronze, stainless steel, aluminum, rubies, diamonds, or even sand.  Our money is backed by the word of our government.  The International Monetary Fund ensured that no other currency would be backed by gold, forcing countries wanting to join the IMF to sell their gold and silver.

If our government collapsed, everyone would be broke.  If our money was backed by gold, our money would still have a value even without the government, as we could trade our dollars in for gold, which we could use to trade for goods and services from anybody in the world.  If we were an objectivist nation, we would have currency backed by gold (or something else of value), we would not have government run programs (other than the military, the police, and the court system), we would have low taxes (more like a annual membership fee), we would be allowed to succeed on our own, and we would be responsible only for ourselves.  Sure there would still be lazy people, but they would not be in a position of power, they would be destitute.

We are a nation of non-earners.  Those who earn are forced to give their earnings to the government.  Non-earners receive money, from the government, for the sole reason that they earn nothing.  Objectivism does not reward anyone, rather, those who are earners earn rewards and those who are non-earners do not earn anything.  Objectivism's rule of gold is, "Those with value receive value, those without value receive no value."  Note that value is not defined.  Value is anything that the individual places worth upon.  It could be money, gold, pride, friendship, or any number of other items.

The first step to creating an Objectivist country is to understand that the only person you should love as yourself, is yourself.  Nobody else even comes close.

© 2010 Nate Phillipps

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Selfishness of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu

Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa, spent her life giving to the poor, which by most people's standards means that she is selfless.  However, that is not the case.  Mother Teresa was selfish and often put herself before others.

Mother Teresa got her selfish start when she left the Catholic convent to live on the streets and help the poor.  How is that selfish?  Nuns take three vows; poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Nuns are to live in a convent.  By leaving the convent to live on the streets, Mother Teresa was not being obedient to the Catholic Church, but was instead being obedient to her own free will.  She went out, against the will of the church, to do what she wanted to do, not what the church wanted.

That one act cannot possibly prove that someone as giving as Mother Teresa was selfish her whole life, can it?  Of course not.  However, the whole of Mother Teresa's philosophy was selfish.  She believed that poverty would bring people closer to Jesus, and she said, "Poverty is a wonderful gift because it gives us freedom."  Therefore, since her life goal was to be closer to Jesus, and to be poor and destitute, she was being selfish in pursuing those desires.  Remember, if she wants to be poor, then giving up her possessions is an act of selfishness.  If she wants to give herself to the poor, then that is an act of selfishness.  If she gives to the poor but doesn't want to, then that would be selfless.

Her selfishness does not stop there.  You know who Mother Teresa is.  I know who Mother Teresa is.  Most people have at least heard of her.  For someone portrayed as selfless, she sure is famous.  Only somebody who feels proud of themself would accept any fame, notoriety, or gratitude.  In 1979, Mother Teresa accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.  She donated the money to the poor, but she accepted the award.  I'm not saying she didn't earn it; she certainly worked harder to earn it than Al Gore or Barack Obama.  If she were truly working for God and others, she would not have accepted any award, but her life is full of awards.  Obviously she was proud of the work she was doing, she was proud of herself.  Being proud is one of the most selfish feelings a person can experience.

Mother Teresa's religious experience also proves how selfish she was.  Throughout her life she struggled with her faith.  Of her faith she said, "Where is my faith? Even deep down ... there is nothing but emptiness and darkness ... If there be God—please forgive me. When I try to raise my thoughts to Heaven, there is such convicting emptiness that those very thoughts return like sharp knives and hurt my very soul ... How painful is this unknown pain—I have no Faith."  She has always claimed to be doing God's work, but if she doubted God so much, what possessed her to follow through with her work?  Her desire to help the poor did not come from God, it came from her.  She wanted to help the poor, so she did.

People who embrace religion often embrace death without knowing it.  Most religions teach that all your rewards will be given to you in the afterlife, after you die.  By looking forward to heaven, you are looking forward to death.  If you are selfless, the greatest expression of having no self, is to be dead.  To be alive is selfish.  In the late years of her life, Mother Teresa was sickly.  During this time she chose to be treated in a state-of-the-art hospital in California, rather than one of her own clinics.  If she did not care about herself at all, she would not demand the best care possible.  However, she is selfish and did demand the best care possible, because she loved life.  Were she truly religious, she would look forward to death, especially after such a long life in the service of God.  Instead, we can see that her faith did not guide her, instead, her own will guided her through life.

Being selfish is a good thing.  I am not trying to degrade somebody who spent their life on their own terms, I am merely trying to make the distinction:  Mother Teresa was not an altruist helping the poor, Mother Teresa was a selfish person who made it her life goal to bring care to the poor.

© 2010 Nate Phillipps