Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blaming is Not Evidence

Sincere apologies for the absence. Like many, the entire political season and sensationalized transition was a bit overwhelming, so I took a break from public commentary. Now that the business of politics has resumed, it seems necessary that I do the same.

I will not express disappointment over recent events (pre-TARP, TARP-I, “stimulus packages, etc.) because every system must have fluctuations and reversals to remain vital. And other (more traditional) beliefs that I hold dear require support and encouragement for discernment and wisdom in our nation’s leadership. And I believe that adherence to those principles supersedes my political views. Yet in the tradition of this bolg’s mission, there are items I must address.

Stories are being told that are shaping the opinions of a society that (if you’re brave enough to admit it) has been largely disinterested in the political process. Incredible commentaries are being thrust before the American people with the intent of distracting the uniformed (on both sides) from any exposure to the truths of their opponents. Just because I am to the right of center, I will not attack liberals or pass on conservatives, especially on my point for this installment: blaming is not evidence.

Blaming Is Not Evidence

The opportunities (the pessimistic call them “challenges”) that are before us have many origins. The conservatives advance the opinion that spending is the sole cause of our economic woes. Now, there is evidence that spending has contributed to the demise of our economic system, but it’s not the only variable. A compassionate nation must have a measure of spending for services that assist those in need. However, blaming the entirety of our woes on spending only deflects attention from the concept (evidence) of hoarding. When any class amasses the bulk of any resource—money, entitlements, knowledge, etc.—the imbalance that follows can cause extreme discomfort to the entire system.

Conservatives take an easy position when they say that the “have nots” are simply afforded too many luxuries without the work and effort that others have to expend to acquire them. But then, they are quick to want people who look good to be on staff, and speak with fluency and intellect. Those things require programs for some to jump-start success. Spending must occur (within sustainable parameters) to provide an avenue for the underserved to move to a position of independence. Without that vehicle that the assertive will use to thrive, there will be fewer future earners to contribute to the overall victory over failed social experiments.

Now, I’ll try and tone down my comments on liberal blame. It always amazes me how we seem to vilify things that help promote civilization. Tradition, values, family, etc., are all ridiculed by the left, but their most recent blame is focused on rewards for success. They say that tax cuts don’t help anyone but the rich, but overlook the fact that the rich support the very systems that they seek to promote. Unless you simply print more and more and more and more money, there is only one way to pay for things: taxation. And there is only one “class” that can be taxed: earners.

When we vilify the very people who provide the revenues for the programs that promote compassion and aid, we discourage success. If I know that I will be taxed at higher and higher rates as I succeed, I will (at some point) cease to want to progress. I should think that a few incentives for those who earn—and contribute—much more than the average Joe would help to perpetuate the system of entitlements we’ve adopted in the U.S. By saying that tax cuts “haven’t worked over the past eight years” we are distracted from the fact that spending more than we bring in cannot be sustained.

Only when our politicians, our media and our populace vilify “blame” and accept accountability will we be able to move toward the utopian existence that both sides seem to hope for. We expend such vast amounts of energy, time, and finance to discredit anyone but ourselves, and this practice has an unsavory foundation that too few accept accountability for. This pettiness is a vain attempt to convince ourselves that we really are “pretty good,” but in the end, everyone (including ourselves) suffers. We can relate any number of facts, and still be dead wrong.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

It's "OUR" Time

President-elect Barack Obama spoke three words that can both disturb and inspire the American people: “It’s our time.” It would be far too transparent and superficial to focus only on the obvious responses to that statement. Supporters of the progressive candidate are no doubt enthralled that maybe (finally) they will “get theirs” (from a post-election Obama supporter’s comments). The conflicting messages of “let’s build one nation of equals,” versus “only if you’re one of ‘us’,” are confusing to opponents. However, those are not my topics.

It is historically accurate that power brokers have guided our national policy, often at the expense of the under served. For those who are feeling the weight of defeat, perhaps it is our time to encourage those who are unfamiliar with achievement to accept authority and accountability. Perhaps it is our time to offer enlightenment into the challenges of success, and mentor the ambitious who have had fewer opportunities.

For those feeling the rapture of victory, perhaps it is our time to shape a productive reality that will far exceed the imaginings of the world. Perhaps it is our time to offer conclusive proof that our platform and philosophy would not limit or discriminate based on creed, color, or origin. It’s our time to play an active and ongoing role in building a vibrant and sustainable future.

Nevertheless, I must offer warnings, both to those who are called upon to step aside and to those who hope to step up. There are logical and predictable consequences to both reckless abandonment and rushing headlong into unfamiliar territory. Either (or both) can have catastrophic outcomes if enacted improperly.

If the risk-takers, investors, innovators, and employers withdraw from their industries, we will jeopardize the stability of the nation. If our decades of sacrifice and expertise are withheld out of fear that we will be penalized for success, then everyone will suffer. Only by sharing our knowledge with those who will strive to succeed, can we regain the “former glory” of our great nation.

If we, who have been deprived of position and accomplishment in the past, are forced to create abundance without sufficient preparation, we are set up for failure. To build upon the economic, political, social, environmental, and scientific foundations for which the world once held us in high esteem, we must rely on the proven tenants of success that have worked in the past. But we must study and be receptive to examples and models in order to emulate success, now that our time has come.

It seems that in the greatest society, the word “OUR” should have the broadest definition possible. Cultures that are striving to make lasting contributions to the advancement of humankind will abhor the constant reversals of “who gets to be on top.” By demanding any more or having diminished expectations of any category of people within a nation, reinforces disparity and constricts the word “our” until it becomes meaningless.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

In spite of unprecedented erosion of the economic and moral foundations of our nation, the political establishment has accelerated the world’s oldest campaign strategy. With little regard for the historical origins of our national crises, we are inundated solely with subtle accusations and the blatant disregard for accountability. The platforms presented for our consideration are the candidates’ “blame to fame.”

There are three primary arenas of blame that both parties are promoting: historical, positional, and what I will call “mis-directed.” All three are issued at the expense of any personal liability. It is a mystical absolution of culpability, which seeks to distract us by pointing at opponents’ past (and present) affiliations. A populace that accepts these distractions is destined for suffering and decline.

By “historical blame”, I refer to an attitude of entitlement—advanced equally by both major parties. Conservatives claim exclusive license to wealth and power by virtue (used sarcastically) of risk, sacrifice, and investment. It is a belief that these three entitle them to pardon, since they bear the burdens of a successful nation. Liberals assert their historical absolution by claiming victimization and destitution, while coveting all they lack. For both, resting on the circumstances of the past diminished the potential for contribution to resolutions to present conditions and future opportunities for growth.

“Positional blame” accounts for one of the most corrosive elements that erode the surface of the monument to our nation’s success. Liberals claim a repression of the class system, like some inescapable captivity that will always over-ride man’s innate potential. Conservatives claim that an obligation accompanies their position of success and a commitment to govern the unmotivated. Only by elevating accountability for success and responsible governance can we all experience the rewards of a successful society.

“Mis-directed blame” is the broader umbrella under which the previous two function. The standard default, adopted (increasingly) by members of every demographic, is that blame for all social ills rests squarely on the opposition. Claims that one (single) member of the other party is responsible for this problem or that failure. These accusations are all presented in spite of evidence of involvement—and even promotion—of policies that contributed to the dilemma (insert your own societal quandary here).

The failures at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack (among other financial entities) were the direct product of two opposing greeds. Greed for home ownership without sacrifice or planning, and greed for providing loans to the unqualified. And in spite of these two realities, the only contributing factors that are communicated in the media depend on who is speaking. These contrasting views direct blame outward and seem incapable of accepting any accountability.

However, it is important to clarify a critical variable that is at the foundation of our current economic turmoil. A variable that both liberals and conservatives have played a role in promoting. Through active encouragement, or intentional indifference, the attitude that all people are OWED the same success, happiness, possessions, and authority has had the net effect of undermining the foundations of our society. The last time I read the historical documents of our nation, we were promised the “pursuit of happiness,” not its guarantee.

Men and women who have the courage to recognize inconsistencies in their personal philosophy, and take decisive action to amend wrongs reverse history daily. Although it seems a small percentage, people expand beyond the stereotypes of their position to accept accountability for their success within the parameters of human integrity. Moreover, millions of us (regular guys and gals) recognize that blaming others seldom advances individual, community, or national abundance. Only by defining responsibility as a personal role can we rebuild the greatness this nation once knew.