Saturday, November 20, 2004

Taxes and Moral Responsibility

Millions of Americans feel that the war in Iraq is both unnecessary and deeply immoral. One estimate of the number of civilians killed in that country due to the American incursion is 100,000. It boggles and sickens the imagination. And of course there are American combat deaths and those of combatants from other members of Bush's alleged "coalition."

Add to the immorality the billions spent on building and utilizing weapons; the contracts let by the federal government without bids to corporate giants like Halliburton, which also cost us hundreds of millions of dollars; the ongoing research and development efforts focused on developing new kinds of weapons, including "Star Wars" monstrosities in space and small-scale nuclear weapons.

The destruction of the environment, the Administration's direct aid in outsourcing American jobs, the tax cuts for the rich, the detention of uncharged prisoners at Guantanamo . . . The list of Bush administration sins is a long one with far-reaching tendrils. Then there's the tiny fact that the 2004 presidential election may have been stolen from under the noses of the American people.

But the subject few people want to talk seriously about is this: that all American taxpayers share the responsibility for these atrocities and others, because we support them with our tax dollars. Every time we dutifully surrender our tax monies--that is, every time we're paid and every time we fill out a tax return and send additional money--we fund exactly the things to which we morally object.

Today we have a one-party political system. In many states, the Democratic Party is no longer a viable entity. In states where Democrats still get elected, most of the successful politicians dare not oppose the Republican agenda vigorously, for fear of losing their jobs. Thus, in effect, we're stuck with a one-party system that does not in any way "represent" or respond to the interests or beliefs of millions of Americans. The "checks and balances " aspect of our system, in which one party watchdogs the other, is entirely unbalanced.

Back to taxes. These monies keep the wheels turning, the immoral agenda moving forward--and these monies come from us. If we hope to address and influence the process of American politics, we must consider forming a massive tax resistance movement, in which tens of thousands or millions of Americans band together to withhold the fiscal lubricant until serious changes are made. In short, we need a fiscal revolution!

I urge anyone who reads this blog to take action by withholding their federal taxes this April; by changing the number of exemptions they claim to eliminate the withholding of taxes by employers; and by urging groups such as MoveOn to push for a national movement in this direction.

Taking the money away is more than a symbolic gesture. It may well be our last hope.

For further information, take a look at these links:

www.nwtrcc.org
www.warresisters.org
www.alternet.org/story/15593
www.vitw.org/war_tax/
https://secure.serve.com/resist/wtr_guide2003.htm




23 Comments:

Blogger Redneck Guru said...

Let me guess...your a college student aren't you? You should learn to investigate the issues before you regurgitate the party line. None of your points are backed up by facts.

Millions of Americans feel that the war in Iraq is both unnecessary and deeply immoral. One estimate of the number of civilians killed in that country due to the American incursion is 100,000Millions of Americans and others around the world know it is the right thing to do. The UN wouldn't enforce its sanctions and ultimatums. Someone in this world has to be able to stand up to tyrants. The Middle East is a cesspool of fundamentalist oppression tyranny, and poverty. America is reversing that.


...Bush's alleged "coalition."This is laughable. Always the liberals that want to denigrate the other nations that stand with us. I especially love the argument that US forces make up over 90% of the troops involved. What percentage usually makes up the number of troops involved in UN "incursions"?

"Add to the immorality the billions spent on building and utilizing weapons"Immorality? Then the Constitution of our Government is immoral according to your logic. The only true responsibility of the government of the US is to provide for the common defense. How would you propose we do that if not by “building and utilizing weapons"?

Would you rather see us use rocks and pointy sticks?

"The destruction of the environment"Broad generalization with no substantiating facts. Battle cry of the left when they are trying to provoke some type of emotion without having a fact based argument.

"the Administration's direct aid in outsourcing American jobs"Facts please, if you can find them. Why should ANY corporation be prevented from maximizing their profits? Tell me how the small amount of outsourcing that has been done has effected on our economy. The truth is, you are not guaranteed a job anywhere. You seize opportunities, you perform at the highest level and you strive to succeed. If the line of work you have chosen isn't hiring, find another line of work.

"Then there's the tiny fact that the 2004 presidential election may have been stolen from under the noses of the American people.Are you truly out of your mind? This is the invented news of losers. Poor losers. Got any facts behind this from any reputable newspapers/sites? No. What to know why? Kerry lost the election. Move on with your life.


Dentention of uncharged prisoners at Guantanamo? Are you serious? They are enemy combatants. There is no due process for enemy combatants. How many American lives have been saved by the information gathered at Guantanamo?

This country is turning into a one party country because the Democratic platform has moved so far from the mainstream of what the country wants and stands for that it has lost its relevance more and more with each passing election. Socialism is an evil. The closer the Democrats move towards a truly Socialist platform the less they connect with the American citizen.

"...that all American taxpayers share the responsibility for these atrocities and others, because we support them with our tax dollars. Every time we dutifully surrender our tax monies--that is, every time we're paid and every time we fill out a tax return and send additional money--we fund exactly the things to which we morally object.Dutifully surrender our taxes? Maybe you do. I have mine taken from me by force, through no choice of my own, before I ever get my check. You are right about it being spent immorally, but the real atrocities are the ones you imagine. They are the fact that our taxes are spent on socially experimental entitlement programs that amount to little more than redistribution of wealth. They are spent on pork barrel domestic programs that do nothing to make our country a better place. They are spent as aid to foreign countries, some of which have never done ANYTHING to further the causes of freedom and liberty in the world. It is beyond immoral, it borders on criminal.

Please explain to me again how the tax cuts help only the rich? The tax cuts go to only the people that pay taxes. 50% of this country pays no income tax. That would be the bottom 50% (all of THESE facts are on the IRS webpage). It only makes sense that those that pay the taxes get the cuts. Why should the wealthy pay more taxes than anyone else? Why to we penalize success in this country by forcibly taking more of the earnings of those that succeed?

Also, you may want to be careful who you urge not to pay taxes. For one thing, how do you withhold taxes that are taken out of your check before you get it? All of the people you are asking to support your cause won't be much help in prison. The government takes what it wants at the point of a gun.

Instead of the socialist websites you seem to place a lot of credibility in, check out http://www.fairtax.org/ .

November 25, 2004 at 6:59 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Hey Redneck Guru,
You and I are so far apart that I don't even know where to begin in responding to your comment. I'll try to keep it short, but yours is the "let 'em eat cake" posture that drives me nuts.

You dismiss my post by saying I don't have the facts to back it up, then make a dozen generalizations without backing them up. Bullshit. The facts are out there. It's not up to me to find them for you. If you were both objective and intelligent (not to mention compassionate), you'd find them for yourself.

Anyone who would dismiss wholesale the notion that the Bush Administration is destroying the environment is simply not paying attention--or doesn't care. I hate to tear you away from endless viewings of your favorite films like "Matrix," but for starters, read "Crimes Against Nature" by Robert Kennedy if you need substantiation. The truth: Virtually every significant environmental protection law on the books has been terminated, watered down to such a degree that it's useless, underfunded, or otherwise rendered unenforceable by the Bush administration and its friends in Congress.

You say who knows how many American lives have been saved because of the detentions at Guantanamo. Right, partner. Who knows? Nobody. Possibly none. What we DO know is that lives have been ruined because the U.S. in its arrogance feels entitled to detain anybody for any length of time without charging them with anything. Before you endorse the policy, maybe you ought to ponder its possible implications for you and other "decent" American citizens in the future--and its implications for the lives of innocent detainees.

You doubt that millions of Americans feel the war in Iraq is immoral and unnecessary? C'mon, man. Check the polls. And add to that HUNDREDS of millions, maybe billions, around the world who feel the same. Maybe all those people are wrong and Redneck Guru is right, but I doubt it.

When you mention the "small amount of outsourcing" (of jobs) that has happened in the U.S., I have to wonder what planet you're living on. Factory after factory, plant after plant, company after company have implemented this practice in our country. And the replacement jobs generated are generally inferior, low-paying positions in the "service industry." Just one company (Wal-Mart) imported $15 billion worth of products from China last year. That's only one company, only one year. All of those products could have been made in the U.S. You seriously think this has only a minor impact on the American economy?

How has the administration directly aided this loss of American jobs? For one thing, Bush's Labor Department hosted meetings for CEOs of large U.S. companies for the express purpose of helping them outsource (American) jobs with less muss, fuss, and expense. Who paid for these meetings? American taxpayers.

Across the board, your attitude seems to be "Bush and us loyal Americans are right--screw everybody else." The lesson of history (see Israel) is clear: Sooner or later, the screwed become the screwers. The oppressed become the oppressors. We'll see how you like it when the rest of the world decides to treat us as we have treated them. But then again, maybe a steady diet of humble pie would do you your ilk some good . . .

November 25, 2004 at 8:20 PM  
Blogger Kender said...

First off a note on outsourcing....Three major reasons that companies move out of the U.S. One) Unions have jacked up wages so far that labor costs are far cheaper in other countries. Two) Left wing environmentalists have caused such draconian laws that quite a few companies simply cannot be profitable at all if they stay here and try to comply with current environmental "mandates". Three, lawyers and "whiny touchy feely" liberal lawmakers, (and they are they liberal ones, as the conservative lawmakers are NOT anti business,) have so many laws on the books under the guise of "worker protection" that it is very easy to sue a company in America for even a perceived offense that it is simply better business to go where your chance of being sued for bogus reasons is far less.

Now onto the meat of my post. I just finished posting the following on another dimwits blog.

I fail to cry about the tax situation.....last year my wife made 340,000* before taxes...her taxes paid JUST to federal were 80,000*....then add in state, SS, and all the other crap and she paid more in taxes than the middle class makes, on average, according to your sources. This year the money is flowing even heavier. Thank god for a great financial advisor. He will save us many thousands of dollars that will otherwise go to the government to 'help' poor people.

We are not college graduates. We don't come from well to do families. We are simply hard working and intelligent. This is a bootstrap country. You work hard and smart, buy some boots, and pull yourself up by the damn straps.

We are by no means rich. But then again we are only in our early thirties, so there is time and we will get there.

In the meantime I will try to keep the government out of my pocket. Great links though. Thanks.

*all figures rounded off to the nearest 10,000 dollar amount.

Check for yourself: http://pissedliberals.blogspot.com/2004/11/two-things-in-life-are-sure.html#comments

Redneck Guru is right. Wake up.

November 26, 2004 at 12:09 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Glad you enjoyed the links. We have at least one thing in common: We believe the federal government gets too much of our money.

If you explore the nwtrcc link, you'll discover a pie chart showing in broad terms what the government spends its revenues on. About 50 percent of the expenditures are military or military-related. 33 percent go to "human," which can mean just about anything. The rest go to maintenance of the government itself.

What's clear is that the government is not spending huge chunks of money to "help poor people," as you put it. That's a long out-of-date perspective, if it was ever accurate. (However, I'd rather the money be spent on programs to help people than on bombs and military incursions.)

You make the point that labor costs in the U.S. are higher than they are in other countries. Of course, that's true. But it's not due to the muscle of unions. As any study of union membership and influence will tell you, unions are a relatively anemic presence in this country.

Rather, it's due to the fact that most American workers expect a living wage and decent benefits. Corporations are eager to avoid meeting such "unreasonable" demands, which lower their profit margins, so they ship their jobs overseas. And the Bush administration is doing everything it can to help.

Onerous environmental laws? I repeat, check out Robert Kennedy's book, "Crimes Against Nature." Our environmental laws are so weak at this point that they fail to protect much of anything, including us, and they are little impediment to laissez-faire capitalism. Again, this is largely due to the work of Bush and cohorts. When, I wonder, will we start putting the health and safety of people and the planet they live on ahead of the chase for the Holy Dollar?

Finally, about frivolous lawsuits: Sure, they're out there. But they don't cost us near as much money as you imply. Most are appropriately thrown out of court, while legitimate lawsuits that seek to hold corporations responsible for their criminal behavior flounder because the people harmed don't have the financial resources to move forward, or because new laws simply let corporations off the hook.

The "bootstraps" philosophy is and always has been a dodge used by the "haves" to justify their indifference to everyone else. If your wife made $340,000 last year, as you claim, then you are among the "haves" of the world. Like so many others before you, you will hide behind this philosophy until you experience hard times of your own. Maybe when/if you find yourself flipping burgers at a chain joint or forcing a smile and welcoming shoppers to Wal-Mart, you'll start to understand that we're all in this together.

As someone--maybe Diane Feinstein of California--said recently: I'd rather have a bleeding heart than no heart at all. Or maybe you'd rather hear from Jesus: As you do unto the least of these, so too you do unto me. If you want a healthy country to live in and a planet that is not forever careening toward self-destruction, you'll need to understand that the only way to ensure your own well-being is to work toward the well-being of "the least" among us.

November 26, 2004 at 6:29 AM  
Blogger Redneck Guru said...

Greg. More generalizations from you. Sad. You put forth all of the initial points of contention. Without facts you are living in an imaginary world where the boogey man will always be hiding under your bed and daddy can't ever find a job.

You are right, there is a huge difference between us. You and the other liberals like you blame the US for all of the worlds problems. We are evil and have to change everything we do to fall back into the graces of "world opinion".

My "ilk" on the other hand believes that we are the shining city on the hill that Reagon wanted us to be. We are the freeest most prosperous country in the world, bar none (which is why we are envied to the point of hatred). As long as my "ilk" outnumbers your "ilk" we will remain so.

As long as my "ilk" out number your "ilk" the world can never "oppress" us. You are foolish to think that will ever be possible (unless the government is run by liberals). You liberals are the first to raise hell about human rights around the wrold, but the first time the US trys to correct a bad situation you guys turn on the US like a pack of thankless curs.

this is not a country for crybabys and whiners. We are a nation of winners, of victors. Someone in the workd has to be on top, and it is ths US. Be proud of it. Work hard. When you grow up you will see that I am right. And they call it right for a reason.

November 26, 2004 at 6:30 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Thanks for stopping back, Redneck. A second visit always makes the first seem less like a drive-by posting.

I should correct a couple of your surmisals. I'm not a college student. I'm 50-something and fully grown up. You have also referred to me as a "liberal." I'm not one of those, either. More on that in a forthcoming post.

You know, we all face a rock-and-a-hard place dilemma these days. We all accuse each other of not having "the facts." But if you take the trouble to publish or verbally explain the facts as you best understand them, nobody's interested. Either your facts are dismissed with a wave of a hand as "fuzzy numbers" or instantly labelled erroneous or discounted as suspicious due to their source (such as the "socialist Web sites" you mentioned previously).

A lot of people regard facts as dry, uninteresting, and not digestible enough. Others--and in my experience these folks are usually right-wingers--simply don't want to be bothered by information that might contradict what they already believe. They know they're right, so fact-spouters are merely an annoyance.

Bush is a prime example. On the rare occasion when he bothers to bring up "facts," what he says is either wrong, a deliberate distortion, or an outright lie (e.g., weapons of mass destruction). But in his own mind, the guy is never wrong. That's why he never apologizes for anything or admits the slightest mistake. Pretty pathological, if you ask me.

In your case, you seem to keep demanding "the facts," but your own postings are mighty short on information. My own surmisal about you is that you probably spend a lot of time cruising from blog to blog, stopping just long enough to ambush those on the left end of the spectrum with charges of whining and not having the facts.

Well, OK. If it makes you feel good. But don't confuse the ability to cavalierly dismiss others with being right, being intelligent, or being mature. Or with having the facts.

November 26, 2004 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger Redneck Guru said...

Drive by posting. Thats good. And if your not a college student, you sure fooled me. Your point that I have the biggest problem with is this"

The "bootstraps" philosophy is and always has been a dodge used by the "haves" to justify their indifference to everyone else. If your wife made $340,000 last year, as you claim, then you are among the "haves" of the world. Like so many others before you, you will hide behind this philosophy until you experience hard times of your own. Maybe when/if you find yourself flipping burgers at a chain joint or forcing a smile and welcoming shoppers to Wal-Mart, you'll start to understand that we're all in this together."From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". Right Greg?

I can't think of more evil words, or a more evil philosophy. And leave it to a socialist to try to use the words of Jesus to defend his position. You are right that Jesus said that. He also said that we will always have the poor among us. Always. So why am I "forced" to fund entitlement programs? I give to organizations I feel provide value. I do not give to organizations that encourage victimization and dependency. Well, other than the federal government's programs, and I have no choice there.

I wish more of my money was spent on guns and bombs, and military. That spending guarantees me and my family a way of life without fear of attack from those that would destroy our nation for its virtues.

Like Kender I didn't graduate college either. I'm in my early 40s and make well into 6 figures. You know why? Because I work hard. I learn. I take on the toughest assigmments, ones that no one else wants because they are afraid of failing and I succeed at them.

If I lose this job, I will get another. And if it's flipping burgers, ok, but I bet I own the place in 5 years, or one just like it, if thats what I want to do.. Poeple like me see no limitations to what you can achieve in this country. This life is a race Greg. And the spoils go to the fastest, the highest performers, and those that seize opportunity.

Those that can't play the game, and want to cry about how tough times are, need to grow up.

The only thing we are all in together is in defending the greatest country the workd has ever seen from those that would tear it down. It is socialist dogma to destroy the concept of the individual in favor of the "community".

Socialism is an evil philsophy.

Oh and what about your contentio that Bush stole the election? Lets start here on facts, and we'll see where that takes us.

November 26, 2004 at 2:52 PM  
Blogger Kender said...

Greg....

"The "bootstraps" philosophy is and always has been a dodge used by the "haves" to justify their indifference to everyone else. If your wife made $340,000 last year, as you claim, then you are among the "haves" of the world. Like so many others before you, you will hide behind this philosophy until you experience hard times of your own. "

O.K., I am going to lay bare some family stuff, and show you what bootstraps are all about.

I left home at 16 due to a step-father that was rather free with the discipline. At the time, it seemed draconian as all I wanted to do was hang with friends and listen to music, whereas he wanted me to go to school. I had given up on school in the 8th grade because I had major health problems and the military said they couldn't take me. I wanted to be a fighter pilot. That takes several things, including great eyesight, no problem there, high intelligence, no problem there either, (I was full on honors until the military wouldn't take me, and on my way to scholarships, and was working at the local airport washing planes and anything else so I could get in flight school and have a pilots license by the time I graduated college) and it also takes perfect health, which I don't have. When I left home, sans high school diploma, everybody was certain I was doomed. I worked hard, learning my newly chosen business (racehorses) and spent 14 years on the road, traveling from track to track, mostly in horse vans, working at everything I could and learning everything about the business. It is 20 years later, and rarely am I not working for at least three people just training horses, in fact I have to trun people down due to time constraints. I also have fallen into the movie business, behind the scenes, and in just over one year of doing that have worked on 4 projects, with 2 more ongoing and fast approaching "shooting", as my friends in the business say.

In between all this work I find time to be the President of the PTA at my sons' school, working on raising funds and planning field trips. He is in a small private school and money is tight there so this also is a time consuming process. I also hold at least 4 small charity concerts a year, where I recruit the musicians and work out all the logistics myself, just to make certain that charities I care about have some money rolling in.

For many years I had very hard times, sometimes having just enough to eat. I couldn't even afford a car until I was 22, and that was a beater that barely made it anywhere. If I hit hard times again I will just pick up and chanrge back into the fray, knowing that I will come out onn top, as I am NOT prone to sit there and whine. Did I mention that in between all of this I have a scottish guild that performs at renaissance faires, and I have kept all of this in the air while being on dialysis and undergoing two kidney transplants?

If ever someone had a right to sit down and cry don't you think that would be me? No, I don't sit down and cry. I keep standing, and working for a better life.

My wife also started working at 16...married at 17 to an Air Force fellow, divorced at 23...she has held up to three jobs at once, walking to all three when her POS car wouldn't work. She started in the field she is in now as a receptionist, learning on the job and working her way up by telling her bosses that she could do the next job up the ladder, and daring them to give her a try. She has never been fired or demoted. The only place she has left to move up to in her company is already in her sights, and she has warned the person that holds that position that she will have it. I don't doubt she will.

And yes, she did make 340,000 last year, and has already passed 450,000 this year. However due to a great financial advisor the government is getting a smaller share this year than last year, and we are wealthier than ever.

Bootstraps buddy. This is the greatest country on the planet. Do you think that two high school dropouts, that grew up poor, could get so far in life in any other country? Don't bet on it.

God Bless America.

November 26, 2004 at 11:29 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Redneck--You have your demons, I have mine. To you, socialism is evil. To me, militarism and greed are evil. You hope the government spends more of your money on guns and bombs, I hope the government spends more money on health care, environmental protection, and cleaning up corporate corruption.

Meanwhile, despite what each of us thinks, people are dying and getting badly hurt every day in Iraq. Does that really make you feel safer? Do you really think Saddam Hussein presented a clear and present danger to Americans? Do you see an end in sight? How come it's OK for the U.S. government to perform radical social engineering (via war) in Iraq, but not in this country?

To me, a world in which we must arm ourselves to the teeth in order to feel safe is not a peaceful world. At best, when we pursue the "my guns are bigger than yours" strategy, we achieve an uneasy, insecure state of apprehension and fortification. And, of course, we bankrupt ourselves in the process. Why did the Soviet Union collapse? It spent itself into oblivion. It could happen here, too.

You asked for "the facts" concerning the theft of the election by Bush and Cheney. First of all, I didn't say they stole the election. I said they "may have" stolen the election. The facts are still coming in, and we will never know all of them. That's the problem--and it's a fundamental one. In a democracry "of the people," the facts should be readily accessible to all citizens. In a true democracy, there should be a clear and simple procedure for the recount of every election, be it federal, state, or local. The government should be downright eager to demonstrate the legitimacy of election results.

Instead, the results are inaccessible, and we are forced to resort to lawsuits, outcry, and protest to obtain a partial recount in even one state (Ohio). The information is hidden from the voters, and we are expected to take the results "on faith." At best, it smells funny. I don't trust 'em--and neither should you.

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." In principle, I see nothing wrong with this philosophy whatsoever. I certainly wouldn't demonize it. What gets messy, of course, is trying to apply it practically in the real world. It's not terribly realistic, but you know what? It's an ideal worth striving for--a far higher ideal than the notion of achieving safety by pointing more and better guns at the rest of the world.

November 27, 2004 at 7:11 AM  
Blogger Redneck Guru said...

"From each acording to his ability, to each according to his needs".

The problem is that the guns of government are pointing at me when that happens. I am punished for being a success, my property is confiscated and given to those that can prove a greater "need". Read Ayn Rands "Atlas Shrugged". That is the world of socialism. It is a world of poverty and despair, where all value is removed from an individual and reassigned according to the whim of a few in government that "know better".

Do I think Saddam posed a threat? Yes. Do I think Iran does, yes. Syria, you betcha. Not since Naziism and Fascism has there been a bigger threat to western civilization as fanatical Islam. Saddam was providing resources to the fanatics.

You are with us or against us.

Not to mention that the UN had refused to enforce sanctions for 15 years (of course many there were getting very rich off of Iraq, so why look a gift horse in the mouth?) WMDs. They were there. They have been found in Iraq, found in Jordan (supplied from Iraq via Syria).


Aiding those that would have liberty and freedom is not social engineering Greg. It is a duty, and the most noble of duties at that. Taking what one man has worked hard to earn for his family and giving it to another who hasn't worked as hard, because he can prove a greater "need" is a crime. Take the government out of the picture as the middleman and describe the process to a child. Even children know it is a crime. That is why our public schools are part indoctrination machine. And why I homeschool.

It took over 5 years for Germany to be subdued after the war. Japan was the same. In 5 years Iraq and the world will be better off. As far as using guns and bombs in the world today? That is the nature of the world for the last 2000 years. For a civilization to remain secure and propserous, a strong military is a requirement. A strong military discourages those that would attack us. Our strong military ended the cold war without firing a shot. It protects our interests and our citizens around the world.


Demons? You bet I have them. My demons are the people in this country that sit quietly by and let the social engineers play their games with the lives of our children. People that you hold in high regard.

November 27, 2004 at 9:37 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Kender--Thanks for a thoughtful, cogent, and personal post. I appreciate it, and I take it at face value. I think I'm starting to warm up to you--Lord help us both.

My interpretation of "bootstraps philosophy" involves those people who figure they've earned theirs and to hell with the rest of the world. This includes people born rich who've had their bootstraps handed to them but like to pretend otherwise.

You work for charities, for the school, out in the community. You're not just sitting behind fortified walls in a guarded community hoarding your gold and bad-mouthing the riff-raff. You're not who I mean.

But you can't redeem or evaluate societies based on individual success stories. How do you suppose the guy serving 15 years in a Texas prison for the possession of a small amount of marijuana feels about "the land of the free"? Should we generalize from that about the way our nasty government imposes its definition of morality upon individuals?

Success stories certainly are not limited to the U.S. I'm certain they happen in virtually every country. Look at Nelson Mandela. For that matter, the rise of hard-working Saddam Hussein could be considered a success story, at least prior to our intervention.

Don't get all heated up. I'm not comparing you to Hussein. My point is that sucess defined only in terms of wealth and power is no success at all. This is as true of societies as it is of individuals. The U.S. should be utilizing its wealth and power to make the world a better, more just, and more peaceable place. In my view, we're not measuring up. Our failure is painfully apparent every day in Iraq.

I can't accept the dog-eat-dog, do whatever it takes to survive in the modern jungle perspective that seems to lie (double meaning intended) at the core of Redneck's worldview--and he's certainly not alone. This understanding of reality leaves me cold, leaves me keening like Peggy Lee: "Is that all there is?" Is that the world you want to send kids into? Even George H.W. Bush spoke, at least rhetorically, of the need for a "kinder, gentler nation."

God Bless America? I'll go along with that, but it doesn't go far enough. God Blesses the World and every person in it. Now we'd better get to work and earn that blessing.

November 27, 2004 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I appreciate your visits, and I'm trying to understand your point of view, but for me it ain't easy. You think we found WMDs in Iraq; I don't. You think Iraq, Iran and Syria present clear and present danger; I don't. You espouse perpetual and escalating armament; to me, that sounds like a dangerous, unstable world.

I'm afraid we're at loggerheads. Maybe we'd make some progress over a few lager heads, but for now I don't know what I can add. Part of me is disgusted by your philosophy, frankly, but mostly I just find it sad, profoundly sad. To me, life is not just a competitive race, and I'll be damned if I'm willing to simply run until I drop, or until I'm overtaken.

Maybe we ought to think less about what we HAVE and who might take it away from us, and think more about who we are and what we're doing. Without conscience and self-awareness, we're all trapped in an amoral vacuum, which is my definition of living hell.

November 27, 2004 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Redneck Guru said...

Success stories certainly are not limited to the U.S. I'm certain they happen in virtually every country. Look at Nelson Mandela. For that matter, the rise of hard-working Saddam Hussein could be considered a success story, at least prior to our intervention. Nelson Mandela was a terrorist. The ANC was a terrorist organization that finally (over a 30 year period) gained some credibility as it moved away from violence and the worlds opinion tyrned against apartheid.

Hussein was a murderer that gassed his own people. And you think my philosphy is over the top?

If we can agree it is morally wrong to steal, why can we agree it is morally wrong to steal from the rich?

The only thing I think we might gree in is the poor SOB doing 15 years for possesion. Our drug laws are draconian. The difference is I would expect the guy to get a legitamate job in order to buy his dope, whilst you might (don't want to speak for you here) suggest a government funded halfway house and jobs training program, which would entail him being supported by the taxpayers until he had overcome his trauma at being incarcerated.

Personal responsibility is the key. Not my responsibility for my fellow man, but for me. My responsibility for my fellow man ends at my support for my church programs and charoties, my prayers for him as a fellow human, and my insistance that each person in this country be given exactly the same chance to suceed, regardless of race, or creed.

BTW, if my constantly trying to save your soul becomes tiresome, ask me to leave, I take no offense...

November 27, 2004 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Redneck--I don't mind the attempts to "save my soul," but it's a pretty ambitious agenda on your part. You might change my mind on a point or two (at best), but I suspect my soul is beyond your reach. And, I might add, the reverse is undoubtedly also true.

One of the problems we're having is that we're all over the map, discussing 50 different issues at once and trying to make sense of it all. That'll only get us deeper into the muck, I think.

I'd like to suggest a starting point. Tonight I watched a rented film called "Control Room," which deals with the war in Iraq and how it is/was covered by the international media. It's not a simplistic film. It has a great deal of nuance to it, and some memorable real-life characters. Not to mention some unforgettable scenes.

If you'll agree to get it and watch it, I'll agree to discuss it with you. It'll lend some focus to our dialogue, and in some ways the war in Iraq embodies the differences between you and I. Afterward, I'll even agree to watch a film that you suggest, if you want to carry this forward. Kender, if you're out there, you're invited to participate in this experiment also.

Maybe we can make some progress, maybe not. Interested?

November 27, 2004 at 8:41 PM  
Blogger Kender said...

I'll find it and watch...and I will have one in return for you...some suggestions....no farhenheit 911...no farhenhype 911....or celsius 41.11...that fair?

November 28, 2004 at 10:56 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Fair enough, Kender. Redneck Guru? You out there?

November 29, 2004 at 6:13 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Well, Redneck, since I haven't heard from you, I guess you're really not interested in information that might challenge or contradict your beliefs. Not interested in any sort of focused dialogue. Not interested in those "facts" you're so fond of advocating. I'm not terribly surprised.

Kender, have you actually seen Fahrenheit 911? Was it all hype and hogwash as far as you're concerned, or were some of its points valid? Just curious.

November 30, 2004 at 9:32 PM  
Blogger Redneck Guru said...

Nope. I am curious, just had life get in the way a bit. I'd like to see the movie, but if I can't get you to admit stealing is wrong, I'm really not sure how much of a constructive discussion we can have about the Iraq war.

Do we have a time linit on watching the movie? If so, you guys go on without me, otherwise I can probably do it in the next couple of weeks.

December 1, 2004 at 3:49 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

No time limit, as far as I'm concerned. Only requirement: open mind. Since when did I not acknowledge, by the way, that stealing is wrong? Of course it's wrong. And the ultimate theft is the theft of LIVES, made even worse by lying about the reasons, and about how you're doing it, and by attempting to justify it with hollow platitudes about "freedom" and "liberation."

December 1, 2004 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Redneck--I apologize for the last post. I can't even answer a simple question without adding a harangue these days. Seems I've turned into the original Angry White Guy. I'll try to keep the venom in check in the future--or at least spray it at more appropriate times.

December 1, 2004 at 7:25 PM  
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