Rotten, worm-eaten, stinking-evil contemptible…

I didn’t easily find more recent data, but as of about ten years ago, the average sentence for murder in the USA was about 16.5 years, meaning about 12 or so with good behavior (this last statistic as of 2005). 

Granted, your mileage may vary.  If you’re a famous ex-football player and movie star, you can kill a couple of people and walk away free; if you kill a cop, you’ll probably be dead before you can reload.  If you’re a senator or president, you can get away with just about anything. 

But typically, the average bloke can murder for the price of about 16.5 years.

Sexual assault may carry an average sentence of around 8 years, but you’ll be out in about 5 (again, 2005 statistics).  From there, the sentencing goes downward for robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and larceny, for which you can get out after about 18 months.  As you know, we have a lot of drug “offenders,” who’ve made our prisons something like revolving doors.  Sometimes you have to free murderers and rapists to make room for the pot smokers, but no matter; in an odd variation on Andy Warhol’s “15 minutes” of fame, it seems that nearly everybody will at some point be in prison for about 15 minutes for some kind of statutory offense (seatbelt laws, airbag laws, drug laws, medical coding laws, business licensing laws…).

Now here’s what I think is interesting:

Bernard Madoff never threatened anybody; he only talked people out of their money, and got a 150 year sentence.

Robert Kahre paid his employees a mutually agreeable wage using USA minted gold and silver dollars according to their face value and reported it all to the IRS according to the letter of the law.  But the IRS didn’t like it.  So he’s about to be sentenced for up to 296 years in prison.

So here’s what I think:

Your government, the one that you and your neighbors vote for with a 98% reelection rate, is evil and deserves only contempt and destruction.  Our laws mean nothing, our money is worthless, our culture is depraved, and if we don’t wake up and reform ourselves from bottom to top, we are doomed in the worst and every sort of way.

That’s all.  Have a nice day!

Opportunity knocks, but maybe only once…

Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Were we directed from Washington when to sow and when to reap, we should soon want bread.”   Our founders knew that ordinary citizens, when allowed their own motivations and institutions, are more adaptable, innovative and productive than even our wisest politicians could imagine or improve.  So our constitutions, state and federal, weren’t written as documents of government empowerment.  They are contracts of limitation; a leash against governments’ historical tendency to get loose and hurt those that government is supposed to protect.

Governments are good at only a few, albeit formidable tasks; and then only if properly restrained.  If we ask more of government, we’ll get less.  What we’ve come to call, “government services,” or programs that rob Peter to pay Paul, can’t work as well as the infinite and dynamic range of citizen alternatives.

Every day, our merchants display a new and endless supply of things like espresso beans, hand-made bathroom tiles, leather-lined cars, -even things like energy saving light bulbs and recycled paper in aisle after aisle of stocked shelves.  When governments attempt such a cornucopia, people wait in line for bad shoes that don’t fit.

Governments can’t command bicycle mechanics to invent airplanes, or decree that college kids will invent a computer in a garage.  Government didn’t invent schools, soup kitchens or voluntary service clubs.  Government regulations didn’t make this nation great; free citizens did that.  The economist Ludwig von Mises wrote, “Progress is precisely that which the rules and regulations did not foresee.”

Not all government programs are as bad as slavery or the segregating Jim Crow laws, of course.  And the “progressive” programs that swept away the Indians and stole property from citizens for the benefit of railroad barons aren’t the finest examples either.  But even government’s best-intended schemes have driven medical costs skyward, and quality downward.  When government tries to stimulate one industry, it squeezes out others.  Some of our most kindly politicians have created social castes and hostile subcultures with their misguided good intentions.

I’ll just come out and say it: according to our government’s statistics, and as analyzed by groups as different as the Cato and Preservation Institutes, our Goose is Cooked.  Like it or not, we are swirling toward the drainpipes of history as our leaders point to the abyss and cry, “forward ho!”

American gross domestic product and expenditures per capita, adjusted for inflation, have doubled since 1960.  Yet for all our apparent wealth, we’re working harder and longer for less and less.  Healthcare spending has gone from about 5% of the GDP in 1960 to over 16% today, much more per capita than any other nation.  But despite better technology, our stratified life expectancies, infant and maternal mortality rates, and communicable disease controls are embarrassing.   In 1950, Americans averaged about $1700 per student/year in adjusted dollars, yet public education was excellent.  We spend over $7000 per student/year now, or over 50% more than other industrialized nations.  I need say no more about the quality of our government-run schools.

Certainly, our leaders didn’t mean to cause us harm any more than they meant to paint themselves into a financial corner.  But with all that’s obviously unraveling around us, I think it’s odd that so many Americans are squawking like Chicken Little now that our egg-faced leaders have confessed that government programs must be cut.  Many are even saying that tax increases, to prop up a few more government services, would be a good “compromise” as we get less and less for our money.  That’s nuts.

We have been presented with a great opportunity to prove our civic mettle.  We can still show the world that liberty still works.  Churches and other voluntary associations can fill the gaps in charity and building projects.  With as much as we pay for political campaigns, I know we can raise money for scholarships, arts programs and day camps.

For decades now, Libertarians, Jeffersonian Democrats and Barry Goldwater Republicans have advocated such simple, proven civic reforms.  Now’s the time.

In fact, it’s now…or never again.

Our government tapeworm has been eating away our civic awareness, industrious spirit and social organizations long enough.  Excising these government dysfunctions doesn’t mean doing without anything.  It means that perhaps at last our government will focus on its core business, and stay out of ours.  It means that now we’ll be free to assess our own priorities, pay for our own causes, and do what Americans were once known for around the world: doing things better.

Where are Samaritans when you need them?

I’ve had it with “religious leaders” spewing socialism.

If Satan has a Bible, I’m sure this is in it: that people should, with all the best intentions, delegate their own, personal role on earth, to politicians.

Where in the Bhagavad-Gita, Torah, Tipitaka, Bible or Koran could you find such evil sophistry?

Universal Healthcare isn’t charity – it is putting a gun to your neighbor to make him do what you won’t do yourself. Social Security isn’t caring for your mother – it’s the hole you personally push her, and your children, into to assuage guilt and allay fears. And you already know that “Homeland Security” has nothing to do with peace and liberty, right?

Our nation’s founders intended that citizens should defend themselves; not just against petty criminals, but against all enemies, foreign…and domestic, as citizen militias. They intended that our churches and voluntary associations, working without the armed aggression of politics, would comprise the departments of Health, Education and Welfare, so that the abstract and erratic junkyard dog we call “politics” would stay in the junkyard, restrained by the tall fence we call Rule of Law.

All of this required that individual citizens, personally, serve the needs of their neighbors; and that we remember, with cold chills, the true history and nature of politics, and people.

Imagine a man was just starting his Corvette after a sales call in northwest Houston, when he was beaten, stripped and left for dead where his car used to be. A TV preacher saw the man, and noted that he really should call 911, but this gave him a sermon idea, so he hurried on. A well-regarded politician saw the man, and said, “dang, I sure don’t want to be seen with a naked man!” And so he also scurried on. But a Mexican, fresh over the fence and scared, hauled the man into his rusty Corolla, took him to the hospital, and even gave his contact information to the ER admitting staff, just if he could be of any help at all, or could pay in any way, for the man’s care.

Who should we emulate? Are there any lessons, in any religion, that tell you otherwise?