Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Most Predictable Fumble of the Century--So far....

It was as if it was planned to be a huge mass screwup from the start. Hundreds of thousands of hippies outatime converging 'pon the Woodstock of 2009, there to see, and perhaps even to touch the hem of their messiah's robes.

Buzzing about the various chatrooms and message lists of the less-in-touch-with-reality from all over the country and abroad was the talk of tickets to the coronation inauguration of America's first god-king people's President. It promised to make the introduction of Elvis Presley or the Beatles seem as subdued as a cemetary, by comparison.

The glorious event fulfilled its promise in many ways. Washington DC was awash in humanity; throngs of worshippers like no Pope has ever witnessed.

Ah, but those tickets.....some were genuine and some were counterfeit. No one knew the difference. No one really cared. This was Woodstock 2009!

But, alas! As the day's festivities, and the events that drew these hundreds of thousands of worshippers to Jerusalem Washington were about to commence, it became apparent that all was not well in New Camelot. Thousands of worshipers well-wishers and fans of the new messiah were left stranded in tunnels and at locked security gates, waving their tickets to the blind eyes of a 42,500 strong security contingent with no head. I mentioned--dare I say predicted--the likelihood of severe difficulties here, just the other day.

According to a detailed story by George Loper here, the troubles didn't end with the lockout of thousands of ticket holders left freezing in lines outside the security gates, but continued as saddened and disgusted travelers attempted to catch their flights back home. The chaos found its way into the airports (no doubt with the enthusiastic help of TSA thugs), causing missed flights and hours-long delays.

Add all this to the climaxing SNAFU's: both the chief of the Supremes, John Roberts and the new King of the Universe President, B Hussein Obama, flubbed their lines. As any actor will tell you: take your rehearsals seriously. They didn't apparently. So, they had a redo, but no one thought to bring a camera or a tape recorder (although someone happened to have a hand-held voice recorder in his pocket.

Stalag California Senator Diane Feinstein is livid. She's calling for a full investigation to learn why the inauguration went so incredibly poorly. I honestly think it's commendable that, every time the federal government screws something up, one of our fine Senators is right there to call for a commission to investigate the reasons why things went so incredibly wrong. It helps keep out-of-work party hacks out of the poorhouse.

Washington would make a great sitcom, if it didn't kill so many people and cost so much money.

People shouldn't be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Atlas Is Shrugging?

One of my Facebook friends, Maggie Willow Stine, posted the following on her page. I thought it appropriate to repost it here, for those who haven't yet seen it. It's very timely.

To All My Valued Employees,

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company, and more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn't pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job however, is the changing political landscape in this country.
However, let me tell you some little tidbits of fact which might help you decide what is in your best interests.

First, while it is easy to spew rhetoric that casts employers against employees, you have to understand that for every business owner there is a Back Story. This back story is often neglected and overshadowed by what you see and hear. Sure, you see me park my Mercedes outside. You've seen my big home at last years Christmas party. I'm sure; all these flashy icons of luxury conjure up some idealized thoughts about my life.

However, what you don't see is the BACK STORY :

I started this company 28 years ago. At that time, I lived in a 300 square foot studio apartment for 3 years. My entire living apartment was converted into an office so I could put forth 100% effort into building a company, which by the way, would eventually employ you.

My diet consisted of Ramen Pride noodles because every dollar I spent went back into this company. I drove a rusty Toyota Corolla with a defective transmission. I didn't have time to date. Often times, I stayed home on weekends, while my friends went out drinking and partying. In fact, I was married to my business -- hard work, discipline, and sacrifice.

Meanwhile, my friends went to their jobs. They worked 40 hours a week and made a modest $50K a year and spent every dime they earned. They drove flashy cars and lived in expensive homes and wore fancy designer clothes. Instead of hitting the Nordstrom's for the latest hot fashion item, I was trolling through the discount store extracting any clothing item that didn't look like it was birthed in the 70's. My friends refinanced their mortgages and lived a life of luxury. I, however, did not. I put my time, my money, and my life into a business with a vision that eventually, some day, I too, will be able to afford these luxuries my friends supposedly had.

So, while you physically arrive at the office at 9am, mentally check in at about noon, and then leave at 5pm, I don't. There is no "off" button for me. When you leave the office, you are done and you have a weekend all to yourself. I unfortunately do not have the freedom. I eat, and breathe this company every minute of the day. There is no rest. There is no weekend. There is no happy hour. Every day this business is attached to my hip like a 1 year old special-needs child. You, of course, only see the fruits of that garden -- the nice house, the Mercedes, the vacations... you never realize the Back Story and the sacrifices I've made.

Now, the economy is falling apart and I, the guy that made all the right decisions and saved his money, have to bail-out all the people who didn't. The people that overspent their paychecks suddenly feel entitled to the same luxuries that I earned and sacrificed a decade of my life for.

Yes, business ownership has is benefits but the price I've paid is steep and not without wounds.

Unfortunately, the cost of running this business, and employing you, is starting to eclipse the threshold of marginal benefit and let me tell you why:

I am being taxed to death and the government thinks I don't pay enough. I have state taxes. Federal taxes. Property taxes. Sales and use taxes. Payroll taxes. Workers compensation taxes. Unemployment taxes. Taxes on taxes. I have to hire a tax man to manage all these taxes and then guess what? I have to pay taxes for employing him. Government mandates and regulations and all the accounting that goes with it, now occupy most of my time. On Oct 15th, I wrote a check to the US Treasury for $288,000 for quarterly taxes. You know what my "stimulus" check was? Zero. Nada. Zilch.

The fact is, if I deducted (Read: Stole) 50% of your paycheck you'd quit and you wouldn't work here. I mean, why should you? That's nuts. Who wants to get rewarded only 50% of their hard work? Well, I agree which is why your job is in jeopardy.

Here is what many of you don't understand ... to stimulate the economy you need to stimulate what runs the economy. Had suddenly government mandated to me that I didn't need to pay taxes, guess what? Instead of depositing that $288,000 into the Washington black-hole, I would have spent it, hired more employees, and generated substantial economic growth. My employees would have enjoyed the wealth of that tax cut in the form of promotions and better salaries. But you can forget it now.

When you have a comatose man on the verge of death, you don't defibrillate and shock his thumb thinking that will bring him back to life, do you? Or, do you defibrillate his heart? Business is at the heart of America and always has been. To restart it, you must stimulate it, not kill it. Suddenly, the power brokers in Washington believe the poor of America are the essential drivers of the American economic engine. Nothing could be further from the truth and this is the type of change you can keep.

So where am I going with all this?

It's quite simple.

If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, my reaction will be swift and simple. I fire you. I fire your co-workers. You can then plead with the government to pay for your mortgage, your SUV, and your child's future. Frankly, it isn't my problem any more.

Then, I will close this company down, move to another country, and retire. You see, I'm done. I'm done with a country that penalizes the productive and gives to the unproductive. My motivation to work and to provide jobs will be destroyed, and with it, will be my citizenship.

So, if you lose your job, it won't be at the hands of the economy; it will be at the hands of a political hurricane that swept through this country, steamrolled the constitution, and will have changed its landscape forever. If that happens, you can find me sitting on a beach, retired, and with no employees to worry about....


We might be seeing more of this in the coming months and years, as the New Boss (same as the Old Boss) continues the War on Productivity. As this Wall Street Journal comment by Stephen Moore suggests, it is for some, just not worth all the trouble any more. Year after year, government increases taxes and regulation, shackling the productive to the point where an industrialist just might decide to take his money and trade it for a villa on a peaceful beach in the south of France.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Coronation by Another Name.....

One thing government does well: it stages great fiascoes.

I find myself wondering what it might've been like to attend the inauguration of President Thomas Jefferson. There was no FBI, BATFE, Homeland Security, According to an article on the PBS website, Jefferson "walked from his boardinghouse along Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, where he would be the first president to take the oath of office there. He dressed in the casual clothes of an average citizen, as one account puts it, "without any distinctive badge of office" (Nash, pg. 267). Federalist Chief Justice John Marshall administered the oath of office, and a corps of local militiamen gave the new president a 16-gun salute."

According to Bartleby,
The outcome of the election of 1800 had been in doubt until late February because Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, the two leading candidates, each had received 73 electoral votes. Consequently, the House of Representatives met in a special session to resolve the impasse, pursuant to the terms spelled out in the Constitution. After 30 hours of debate and balloting, Mr. Jefferson emerged as the President and Mr. Burr the Vice President. President John Adams, who had run unsuccessfully for a second term, left Washington on the day of the inauguration without attending the ceremony.
One account tells us that Jefferson went to a tavern for a meal after his inauguration. The place was packed, and none of the patrons saw fit to give the new President their table. He had to wait.

So, in those times, there was a United States divided sharply along party lines between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans--much like the divide between Democrats and Republicans today. Yet, the new President was able to walk the streets of Washington DC without concern (and probably carried a weapon in his clothing to defend himself if necessary).

So, we go from that simple, unassuming tale of the succession of office in a young Republic to the outrageous, ostentatious wastes of millions of taxpayer dollars 'pon coronations designed to make European successions look like a child's clown, ice cream and cake birthday party by comparison.

Further, according to a Bloomberg story, B Hussein Obama's coronation party organizers plan to have a 42,500-strong security force comprised of members of every one of the unConstitutional alphabet soup federal jackbooted thug police agencies, not to mention the Army, the National Guard and members of several local police agencies from across the country.

Protesters will be beaten up and jailed. People who don't fit the mold of sheep in men's clothing will be harassed, scrutinized, searched and perhaps further assaulted by federal thugs. One can only guess at the number of instances of abuse of the Founding Documents will be perpetrated by these mindless subhumans in the days of this stunningly offensive fete!

Not singling out the current Kings Presidents, going back at least as far as Nixon.

I'd be fine with a large hall dinner and a roast of the new dictator President, provided the check is divided equitably among the attendees, and provided not taxpayer money is used, nor any bribes from lobbyists.

There's mainly a single, solitary reason why the fuhrers Presidents in recent decades are so despised, and it has to do with administrations stepping outside their boundaries and interfering so egregiously into the affairs of others, either foreign or domestic. Were the various government officials to mind the business of administration of a small government, designed to only operate within the constraints of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, most folks would treat him much like early Americans treated President Jefferson--just another one of us.

Wouldn't that be cool?

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag Califorina

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some Animals Need Killing

In a news story that proves that some endangered species should be endangered--by whatever means is available to their intended victims. This is the sort of silliness that happens when a private club of enthusiasts (the Audubon Society) manages to get its sometime dopey opinions written into law. See the story in the OC Register Local News here.

It should never happen. The Audubon Society can, at its own expense, advertise any sort of persuasion in favor of bird preservation it cares to, but wild animals are the property of no one, and we deal with them as a resource.

A flock of seagulls (are they still around?) attacked a couple near the Main Beach in Laguna, while they were enjoying ice cream as they walked. One bird hit Mrs Djuric on the head as he went for her ice cream. Shades of Hitchcock's great film, The Birds! Mr Djuric, who acquired a nasty mess 'pon his head during the fracas, began waving a stick, hitting a couple of the gulls. One suffered a broken wing, and had to be destroyed.

Mr Djuric was cited for animal cruelty and will likely be fined.

The Audubon Society claims the birds are a subspecies called Heermann's gulls, and declares them an endangered species. Having spent a relatively significant amount of time at and near beaches 'round the western world, my heart just bleeds for the laziest birds 'pon the planet.

These are birds that are supposed to dive into the water and catch fish for a living. Scavenging about for bits of garbage and unguarded food on the shores places them in the class: Nuisance Critters. Like flies, fleas, roaches and lice, gulls are critters whose extinction would make the world a better place for all.

Now, the opinions of a private club are fine, but like the edicts of your favorite religious organization, they should not be written into law.

That makes Mr Djuric, who was merely defending himself and his wife, after having failed at the attempt to enjoy the ice cream they purchased, yet another victim of a government run amok. Just about anyone else would've done the same thing--including many Audubon members, I'll wager.

Never go to the beach without a hat.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

Sunday, January 04, 2009

What Is A Libertarian, Anyway?

Over the years (over 40 of 'em, in my case), I've bumped into advocates of quite a number of varying opinions as to just what libertarianism is. I've run into even more opinions of what libertarianism is by non-libertarians. Particularly, by conservatives.

We're crazy, drug-addled ne'er do wells who only want drugs legalized.....and those individuals do, in fact, exist. We're anarchists, desiring to tear down all the country's institutions and traditions.....those exist, as well. There are conservatives, who have moved away from the GOP in favor of capitalism and less intrusion by government into our lives.....I've spoken to many. There are leftists who've studied a little economics and see the flaws in the Democrat welfare state......yes, indeed. There are would-be mountain men, who just don't want to be involved at all, and others who would disappear into the Rockies if they only dared. Perhaps there are some living that way, even as we meeker fellows contemplate how to minimize local, state and federal theft of an ever larger portion of our productivity.

Libertarianism doesn't necessarily embrace every one of these ways of life. If I may, allow me to direct you toward an essay that's going to be the first chapter of a book by L Neil Smith and his daughter Rylla Cathryn Smith. The essay, called What Libertarians Believe, can be found here.

Since Mr Smith is the individual who, with the exception of Ayn Rand, has influenced me more than anyone else with his work, I don't hesitate to make his ideas known, to the best of my ability.

Libertarian is very simple, really. It's an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of the individual. It's a recognition that each of us owns his life and all the products thereof. It's simply an absence of initiated force.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is not a libertarian.

They've killed Freedom! Those bastards!

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California


In my haste to finish this entry and hit the sack last night, I neglected to mention what Smith calls the Zero Aggression Principle, (ZAP) which was first (in Smith's recollection) penned by Thomas Jefferson, and in mine, by Ayn Rand. ZAP is central to any real definition of libertarianism and required for any kind of a rational society. See Smith's essay, in which he explains ZAP more fully.