Robert: a thumbnail sketch

I, along with my co-contributors, recognize that liberty inheres to the generic viagra individual; liberty is not that which is granted by governments or benevolent rulers. It's as an individual that I think and act, with the full understanding that I, alone, am responsible for the consequences of my thoughts and actions. In light of that, it is incumbent upon me to cultivate a set of core principles—guided by ethics and morals—by which to govern my life. But don’t misunderstand, I’m not speaking of moralism, but rather morality. Among other things, that is what informs my world-view, my political philosophy, etc.

I’m not real fond of any of casino our major political parties, but I have, in the recent past, held my nose and

voted Republican. However, the way things look at present, I’m seriously thinking of voting for gridlock. It may be the best short-term solution to the problem of ever-evaporating individual liberties.

While I happen to be a Christian, I'm somewhat atypical. My beliefs are inconsistent with the religious right, as well as the religious left. In short, I’m not a proselytizer, so suffice it to say: my faith will rarely, if ever,

be the subject of my posts on this particular blog.

I’m happily divorced and the single father of three kids: Kelsey, Levi and Amaris. I’m a residential architect, primarily focusing on the various classical European styles; those of the 17th through the 19th centuries.

One more thing. I just want to emphasize the fact that I own my life…who owns you?

zp8497586rq
zp8497586rq

Who Am I ? Why Am I Here ?

A very good question, some people who know me might say.

I’m a 37 year old attorney living in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC. Those of you who know Washington know that it is surrounding by an eight-lane highway called the Beltway. My homestead is about 30 miles south of the Beltway, hence the admittedly unoriginal name for my blog, Below The Beltway

My experience with politics goes further back than I care to remember sometimes. I can remember following the Presidential election of 1976 as a class project in 3rd grade. I was in 6th grade when the Iranian Hostage Crisis took place and recall celebrating with a few friends the day Ronald Reagan was elected President. For a time in high school and college I was involved in politics on the local and state levels in the Republican Party, volunteering on campaigns, serving for several months as unpaid volunteer/intern in the District office of what was then the only conservative Congressman in the entire State of New Jersey. And, it was probably my interest in politics that most signficantly motivated my decision to go to law school.

On the intellectual side, I guess its fair to say that I started out as a conservative of some variety and gradually became a libertarian. In college, I was a subscriber to National Review and started reading Milton Friedman and other economists. That eventually led me to Hayek, Mises, and Rothbard. Then the floodgates started to open. I discovered Ayn Rand and read everything she wrote as fast as I could. For a time, I considered myself an Objectivist but, that infatuation started to fade as I became more familiar with some of the more cult-like elements of that philosophy.

I’ve also distanced myself from the more extreme elements of the libertarian movement. I was, I will admit, not entirely a supporter of the first Gulf War. I found the idea of American soldiers being sent into battle to defend the Kuwaiti and Saudi Royal families and their 15th Century ideologies to be offensive. I opposed the interventions in Somalia and the former Yugoslavia. But then, September 11th happened. Call me a pro-war libertarian who watched the Twin Towers fall live on television. All I know is that the evidence is clear that Western Civilization is in a fight for its own survival right now. Following the naive foreign policy advocated by the Libertarian Party and its pacifist allies is, quite frankly, a prescription for suicide.

Anyway, I started blogging, most appropriately I might say, on July 4th 2005. I’d been reading blogs for years before then and had told myself on more than one occasion that I would start one myself. Along with research, writing is one of the things I enjoy most about being an attorney and its nice to have an outlet to write about the things that interest, amuse or annoy me on a daily basis.

In addition to writing, I enjoy listening to music, specifically jazz. Being from New Jersey, I suppose its inevitable that I’m a big Frank Sinatra fan, although the one regret I have is that I passed up the one opportunity I had to see him in concert. When I’m not enjoying time with my wife and dog, writing, practicing law, or listening to Sinatra, I am also a fan of the New York Yankees and, thanks to my lovely bride, the Ohio State Buckeyes. I am a huge science fiction fan and have read pretty much everything written by Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke; currently, I am in the process of continuing to discover the alternate-history fiction written by Harry Turtledove.

Cross-posted at Below The Beltway, because I’m really in need of a biographical post.

Freedom OF Thought, or Freedom FROM Thought?

A comment on a previous entry led me to think a bit about how we let what we read, hear, and see affect our opinions and thoughts. Freedom of thought (not freedom from it) is vitally important to our survival in the future as people who love Life, Liberty & Property. As the old saying goes, those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it, and there are many things going on in the world today that bear some careful thought and consideration.

In our day to day world, there are many occasions when we make judgement calls about things in which we have valid, useful, first-hand information. These are situations where we can be relatively certain that our judgement is accurate. We’ve looked at all the angles, and using the knowledge we’ve gained, we’ve determined the correct way to proceed.

How many times, though, do we see, hear, or read about situations in which we make a snap judgement based only on what we’ve watched on TV, heard on the radio, or read in the newspapers or online? Have you ever changed your mind after that snap judgement? Do you ever go seeking to find out if what you saw/heard/read was accurate? You see, it a world filled with so much media, we must really be sure that we’re exercising our freedom OF thought – not our freedom FROM thought. Freedom of thought allows us to step back and say, “Wow, that really sounds interesting – I wonder if it’s accurate?” Freedom from thought says “well, it must be so or they couldn’t produce/publish it.”

Freedom of thought will lead us to search every avenue available on a subject of interest rather than jumping on the nearest bandwagon. And, if you exercise your freedom of thought, you might just come to some really interesting conclusions – conclusions that may turn your original thoughts or established beliefs completely upside down. This kind of thinking, be forewarned, is not popular – and may cause you a great deal of grief, because bucking the establishment in any form will cause you to be ridiculed or held up as an imbecile to others. Yet it can be richly rewarding to self – if you can get past the need for accolades from others – to know, within your own heart and mind, that you’re not just blindly following the crowd.

My dad, whom I mentioned in a previous post, is a Minister. Dad taught us well – by example – that we should never pass anything along to others without doing our homework to try to insure that we were not passing along gossip or garbage. Incidentally, LOL, friends can tell you that I have never passed along chain emails and spam – and that more than one of them has received a link back to one of the urban legend debunking sites!

Recently, dad and I were talking about the word “Knowledge”. Dad laid it out to me in a way that I’d never thought about. Breaking the word into its separate syllables, it becomes “Know Ledge”. When we think about acquiring knowledge, we think of it as a climb up a ladder. When we’ve learned something concrete, we’ve reached a “know ledge”. We can stand on it. It’s firm. It’s a ledge on which we can place our trust, and from it we can rest and “chew the fat” about what we’ve learned until we’re ready to climb to the next level of “know ledge”.

Now, getting back to the ideas of freedom of thought and freedom from thought, whenever we gain knowledge from our research, we must sometimes use all our senses to discern truth. As the saying goes “the truth is out there”. While there are things that we can’t ever know for certain, if we at least take the time to search, using the knowledge that we can stand on (be it understanding of human nature, concrete science, or first hand information) we can at least be sure of using our freedom of thought to do the best humanly possible to grasp the realities of any situation. And wouldn’t that be better, always, than letting our brains atrophy in the mire of freedom FROM thought?

Edited from original post at Left Brain Female

Introducing the Liberty Papers

Over the past few days I’ve been teasing folks with very brief posts about “The Liberty Papers”. Well, the teasing is over. We are here and live.

So, now it seems that it’s time to introduce the Liberty Papers.

We are a group of people who hold some very specific beliefs. We believe that the theories of individual, inherent rights and government of what is now known as classic liberal theory are the correct political theory. We believe that failing to understand the reality of market economics, individual motivation, and politics leads to tragedy as the world has seen so many times over in Russia, China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia, Cuba, France and many other places around the world. The Declaration of Independence is not just the document that told the British Crown that its American colonies were an independent nation. It is a Declaration that henceforth men would no longer be subject to oppressive government that traded their individual liberties and rights for the paternalism of government. It is the best single expression and declaration of the rights and responsibilities of the individual, including the source of the powers of government. We believe that the United States Constitution is the best attempt by man to take these ideas and turn them into practical, political reality.

All of us are experienced bloggers, we’ve written, in the aggregate, literally hundreds of thousands of words on a wide variety of topics. Always, though, there has been a steady theme of classic liberal belief running through those words. Some people, today, might call that set of beliefs “libertarian”, but there are differences between libertarians and classic liberalism. We are not pacifists, we are not libertines who merely want our vices to be legal. Most, if not all, of us believe that the use of drugs, for example, is a very bad idea, and one that creates issues for the individual, the family, the society. But, we believe the oppression that comes with dictating morals and personal behavior, through collective action and the law, is far worse, and far more destructive to society, than the use of narcotics. We are not anarchists. There is a legitimate purpose for government. Government derives its just powers from the consent of those who will be governed by it. In order to promote the ability of individuals to consent, we must provide a means for them to consent. That can be by the act of participating, by voting, by becoming part of the government. It can also be by the ability to move from one location to another in order to select a government that better fits the desires of the individual. And thus a system such as our Founding Fathers proposed, where the Federal government has extremely limited powers, just those needed at the national level, such as money and coin, national defense, treaty making and the like, while the states and the individuals retain all other power. Then, if you don’t like the government of California, you can move to Nevada, if it is more to your liking. Voting with your feet is a powerful mechanism for consent. Unfortunately, with the states emasculated and most power vested in our Federal government, this is no longer possible today.

So, why this blog? Our goal is a place where we can write on Liberty. We aim to be the place you come to when you want to read political thought from a classic liberal perspective. There’s many other places on the web you can go for freedom and liberty writing. You can visit Catallarchy for anarcho-capitalist writing, or Q And O for neo-libertarian writing (a blend, really, of neo-conservative and libertarian perspectives). So, we aim to be the place you go for liberal thought from a classic perspective. Expect to see a wide variety of writing, as we have a wide variety of contributors. If you look to the left side bar, you’ll see a list of our contributors. Each of them is introducing themselves and the list gives you a link to their introduction. Stop by and visit them, and you’ll find some interesting folks, all of whom are great writers.

We expect to have a lot of good content every day. With this many contributors, if each of us writes 2 to 3 good pieces a week, you are going to see a lot of content coming out. Some of it long, some of it short. One thing you can expect to see, I hope, is some longer liberty writing. Our goal is for the Liberty Papers to be the pre-eminent location on the web for writing on life, liberty and property. And that means that sometimes we need to write more than 800 to 1000 words, which is about the extent of what a blog entry can contain and be effective. We’ll publish those longer pieces as “Liberty Papers”, possibly in a PDF format as well as an HTML format.

So, come one, come all and visit The Liberty Papers. Tell your friends, while you’re at it. Link us, vist us, write about us, disagree with us, engage us in comments and dialogue.

TANSTAAFL

What the heck is that word, it looks like something a deranged Russian Commie who’s had too much vodka would say. Well, it’s actually an acronym and it stands for “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”. In other words, everything has a cost. The key to living life is to understand that statement and act accordingly. If you choose to tell your wife that you don’t like her new haircut there will be a cost to that action. Deciding not to tell her carries a cost as well. Every decision you make, or don’t make, carries a cost. If we decide that every child in the nation needs health insurance coverage and the government will provide it when the parents can’t there is a cost. The money for that must come from somewhere. Either other programs have to be cut back or taxes have to be raised or money has to be borrowed. Each of those choices has an impact as well.

The bottom line, everything has a cost associated with it. The pretzels in your favorite bar are free because they are salty and you will drink your beer faster and buy more beer, or maybe the owner factors the “free pretzels” into his overhead, which is applied to the cost of the beer before he sells it to you. I think every citizen should have to do the cost proposal for a bid for new business. They should have to build up the cost of an employee, including salary, bonuses, raises, floor space costs, computers and software, email, unemployment and social security insurance, benefits package, vacation, sick days and holidays and see just what it costs per employee. Then figure out how many employees in a given category they need to do a given amount of work for the company or government agency that requires the work to be done. Then figure out all of your other expenses, electricity, water, municipal, state and federal taxes, community improvement, charity donations, servers and software applications to enable the business and so on.

Now do that for something like unemployment benefits. Not only must the money for each and every unemployment check come from somewhere, but the money necessary to do the work. Either the government agency does the work, or it contracts it out to be done. Either way the cost is still there. And that money has to come from somewhere. TANSTAAFL.

If you want to be free you have to be willing to pay the price to defend your freedom. TANSTAAFL.

If you want the joy of having children (an awesome experience that I wholeheartedly recommend) you have to be willing to pay the monetary cost and the heartbreak and frustration that goes with them. TANSTAAFL.

If you want a job that pays $100,000 per year and has great benefits then you have to be willing to do something that is worth that much money to the employer. You may have to work more than 40 hours per week, pay for your own training, work for years at much lower wages to gain experience, travel away from home, etc. TANSTAAFL.

Everytime we forget this most basic rule we set ourselves up for really bad consequences (like a $400 billion a year deficit because both Democrats and Republicans refuse to admit there’s no free lunch). Or hurt feelings when your wife discovers that you really don’t like her new hairstyle but didn’t want to say so because she might get upset. Or not getting a pay raise because you aren’t willing to do anything for your employer above the bare minimum needed to keep your job.

It seems so obvious, yet so many of us forget it each and every day. TANSTAAFL is the corrollary to my other perennial favorite, personal responsibility. With these two principles you are armed to deal with the real world, not wishful thinking. Too bad the politicians in Washington, D.C. have tossed them right out the window.

Originally posted at Grumbles Before The Grave.

1 937 938 939 940 941