Cars equal personal mobility. Smart Growth hates it and them.

What Smart Growth dictates is centrally planned housing and transportation. A normal person wants to live in a single family home and drive his or her own car, individualist housing, individualist transport. Planners want social housing policies and mass transit. The dissonance pits social provision of services against the personal autonomy.

Smart Growth is mass action; liberty is an individual matter.

Smart Growth likes light rail, buses, trolleys, and regional transportation plans. Liberty provides roads and cars. An individual then chooses destination and time. Planners hate it when a person can make up his or her own mind. It cuts out the planner.

The American Dream Coalition is the nation’s foremost defender of personal mobility. It exposes local land-use regimes when they attempt to constrain mobility choices and restrict homeownership.

Constitutions and Environmental Values

Montana’s constitution strives to guarantee, “the right to a clean and healthful environment”. This promise is hard to keep.

What is clean? What is healthful? Lack of clear definitions breeds confusion. No wood stoves in neighborhoods would satisfy some. No walking on forest lands would satisfy others. No automobile pollution, hence no automobile use, might fall under this far-spread penumbra.

How clean is clean enough? The problem of extent is not addressed in Montana’s constitution. Litter along streams left by anglers could stipulate blanket denial of access if a demand for cleanliness is taken to the farthest extent.

Should economic limitations be allowed to restrain environmentalist’s demands? Should all school and health funding be re-directed to environmental cleanups? Who decides which environmental cleanups and preservations are most valuable?

Taken strictly, there would be no room for human habitation or activity within Montana’s borders. Then it would be a “state of nature,” satisfying observers gawking from a spaceship down, but no in-dwellers.

This open-ended, overarching, grandiose clause gives lawyers, partisans and factions ample latitude to challenge almost any human or legislative action.

Vague promises foment confusion and rancor. Legal fees mushroom. Bureaucracies flourish. Property rights dwindle.

Everyone wants cleanliness and the preservation of natural splendor. That’s universal. Yet paucity of definitions, and failure to establish priorities, makes applying this constitutional E-whim ambiguous.

Anne Frank’s story made me think

Last night my wife and I watched a docu-drama about Anne Frank. It was poignant. The sufferings of the Jews at the hands of the Germans was quite moving. Especially moving was the depiction of the depth of feeling family members have for each other when being forcibly separated. I need to express my love to each member of my family more often and more clearly.

At the conclusion, when the text frames roll up on the screen, we learned that Anne’s father, Otto, had started a foundation in 1957 for the teaching of tolerance, advocating for the end of prejudice and racism. He apparently hoped that if people were sufficiently schooled in being nice, such miseries could be avoided in the future. That is well and good. But human nature being the constant that it is,Otto’s  foundation would have been better calling for limits on government power. Unbridled power in the hands of mortals, such as was seen in that period in Germany and concurrent and later periods in other socialist countries was the cause of human suffering on a massive scale. Limiting government has more potential for ensuring justice  than  urging tolerance.

Zygmunt Bauman’s book, Modernity and the Holocaust, persuades that it is human nature and sociology at work in the Holocaust, and not some special, diabolical feature of the German psyche. Without restraints, that’s what people do.

As  Germans placed all the police power in the hands of the central government and married policing with the military, round-ups of Jews and other despised groups was enabled. National registration violates state powers. Without registries, Jews would have been protected.

A federal system like that established by our founders, in which the central government has limited power and states wield the police power, is the best protection against atrocities such as befell the Franks. Long live the federal-state dissonance, check and balances, and the man other roadblocks to runaway government and that we have and yet retain a few of.

What is the Tea Party?

What is the Tea Party? More a sentiment than an organization, it represents people of all ages, professions, and political affiliations demanding a return to limited government and fiscal responsibility. It advocates for property rights, individual liberty,and free markets. It abhors bailouts, take-overs, special favors, and reckless deficit spending. It organizes rallies, influences office-holders and the outcome of elections. Tea Parties advocate for Constitutional adherence.

Liberal Democrats Abjure Tea Parties

This quote from the LA Times is an understatement:

Across the country, tea party groups that had focused on planning rallies are educating members on how to run for GOP precinct representative positions. The representatives help elect county party leaders, who write the platform and, in some places, determine endorsements.

Glass’ group and others say their work is nonpartisan; their hope is that people will reshape both major political parties. But for most of the small-government conservatives of the tea party movement, the Republican Party is a more natural fit.

Democrats can’t swallow the small government pill. For them, government is the way. It solves problems. It saves people. It imparts life. Democrats love central planning and state-formed solutions. They distrust individualism. They rely on government, they trust government. They mistrust individuals and families as the locus of problem-solving. They are not, as a party, that is, against big government. They cherish it.

A New Revolution

With founding principles under attack, and the United States sliding toward a funk like Greece’s, what we do not need is another revolution. What we do not need is secession, civil breakup. Texas should not split away. Nor should any other state.

What is needed is a re-affirmation of the original principles, a restoration of the proper relationship between states and the federal government, and limitations on the powers of the federal government as originally envisioned by the founders. With the roles clarified, egregious overreaching would stop. Liberty would flourish. Prosperity and strength would return.

We need more people who’ve read the Federalist Papers and fewer who admire Marx.

Ten Commandments About Money

Ten Commandments About Money

Does your life feel like an action movie? Are you constantly getting shot at, figuratively, careening in high speed chases, falling off cliffs into raging rivers, and facing down roaring monsters? Is your financial life a wreck? Do accidents seem to follow you around?

Ten Commandments about Money

1. Pay your own way. Otherwise you are suffering the indignity of dependence.

2. Get educated. It pays. Take classes. Get a credential. Online courses are often free and include certificates that verify completion. Read books. The Richest Man in Babylon. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, As a Man Thinketh, holy books.

3. Don’t promise more than you can deliver. That’s dishonest. People who do that are fakes.

4. Budget. That means to plan your spending. Then track actual spending. Compare what you spent with what you planned. Use Ace Money Lite to plan and track.

5. Be frugal. Buy stuff cheap. Wait to buy until you have the money. Plan purchases ahead. Find cheaper alternatives. Do without. Eat cheap food. Don’t buy prepared food, fast food, frozen food and restaurant meals. Beware of subscriptions, cable TV contracts, gym memberships and cell phone contracts. Don’t buy big screen TVs, game consoles, exotic pets, guns, ATVs, and DVDs. Pets limit where you can choose to live. Places that allow them are fewer and cost more. Beside, pets eat and get sick. Those things cost.

6. Don’t quit your job until you have found a new job.  If you start a side business, keep your “day job.” Prospect for a better job even while working at a good job. Always be developing your options.

7. Purge from your mind the myth that forty hours of work a week is sufficient. 8-5, M-F was so Detroit, 1950. Rather, plan on 7-6, 5.5 days with ½ hour lunch. Twenty to thirty years of that will be a good start on success. No kidding; it takes a long time of consistently applied true principles to build wealth and security, self-respect and a sterling reputation. Catching up financially from vacation takes a long time. That’s why wise people take vacations from work only sparingly. You can’t afford vacations.

8. If you’ve made mistakes, face them honestly. Admit your debts. Don’t evade them. You can build anew. First you must admit past failures. How else will you avoid repeats? Don’t wallow in sorrow and loathing. Think of these remembrances as courses you’ve taken. Don’t brand yourself a failure because you’ve stumbled. Everyone stumbles.

9. Have a reserve of money for emergencies. Or you’ll feel like a victim, like trouble hunts you down. Emergencies come to everyone.

10. Find a person authorized to receive tithing, a tenth of your income. Pay it. Show gratitude to people and heaven.


Create opportunities. Advertise. Promote.

Get out of bed early. That requires going to bed on time.

Get out of debt. Stay out of debt. Follow Dave Ramsey’s plan. Don’t buy “on time.” Don’t rent furniture. Don’t lease a car.

Use an envelope system if you have to.

Show gratitude to your boss and co-workers. Inconvenience yourself for them and the customers. Know what they want; provide it. Be courteous and helpful at work.

Always think of the long run. Success takes time.

Show up on time. Sober. Call if you are going to be late. Make up lost time on your own.

Leave cash and checkbooks home. Shred credit cards.

Ride a bike. Walk.

Don’t covet. Don’t expect classy possessions to soothe your lack of self-confidence.

Balance your checkbook monthly. Open your mail.

Pay your bills on time. Put stamps on. Put in mailbox.

Don’t waste time texting, watching TV, surfing the net. Instead, go to skill building classes, read, exercise, recreate with family.

Monitor your cash flow, your revenue stream, your job. In corporate lingo this is called guarding your “cash cow”, whatever brings in the steady revenue.

In business, what is valuable is the franchise. That is what sets your product apart. It’s a brand or a way of doing business. Michael Jordan was a franchise of the Chicago Bulls franchise. Pizza Hut is a franchise, a unique presence in the market. The brand, the unique offering is worth fortunes. Make yourself a franchise, be valuable, make a reputation.

Always be honest. Don’t say you are an expert at some skill if you are not. Candor pays. “I’m not sure how to do that, but I will work hard to learn. I’m open to suggestions. I can find out. It it’s OK with you, I’ll work on it and let you know how I’m coming. I’ll charge appropriately.”

Share your plan with someone who cares about you. Give them progress reports. Share your mistakes so they can help you gather courage to admit, fix, and to avoid them in the future.

Solid money management and earning stability is essential to having loving relationships. Women only trust steady earners. They are freaks for orderliness and predictability. Give it.

Shed the notion that anyone owes you anything, family, friends, your church, the rich, the government. When you are dependent, you’ve lost dignity. Don’t expect gifts and bailouts. There is more dignity living in a cheap car you own outright, in a campground, than lodging in welfare housing or sleeping on the couch of a friend. Who is paying his rent, utilities, garbage, cable, internet?

If you miss three days of work for a sprained ankle or the flu, it will take working overtime for the rest of the month to compensate. Catching up hurts! Better not to incur the loss. Work through the pain.

Do a balance sheet. Total assets. Total debts. Subtract debts from assets. That is your net worth. Not so hot? Make a goal to build it to $___ by making more than you spend. Save and invest the rest.

Take as friends successful people. Emulate. Avoid learning from people who constantly fail. Treat such courteously, respect their dignity and worth, but do not take for companions poor or irresponsible people.

Realize that money doesn’t buy happiness. Even lots of money would not be enough for every eventuality. Life is tenuous and fragile. But without constant, steady, adequate income, you will feel miserable. That is a feeling you can do without.



I had a conversation with a friend last week. She found surrogacy unobjectionable in the case of a sister offering to carry a baby for her sister. She opposes it for hire. She said she would certainly do it, “I would just be an oven.”

She wouldn’t sell her eggs or advise her daughter to sell hers for even $25,000.00.

Possible rejoinders to those ambivalent toward or supportive of surrogacy:

People are not ovens. Babies are not cakes.

Gestational mothers are now thought to contribute a small amount of genetic endowment.  If this is proven, the baby will feel related to the gestational mother and the mother to the child. They would both have a claim on the other, thus sharing and diluting the links of family tree. Clarity is lost.

The gestational mother could back out, determining to keep the baby. This would open a legal battle and sever family love of friendship. This tenuous relationship could go sour and much later a claim could be made for visitation rights, affectional claims, tearing a child from its routines into a sordid fight, in which he or she was a pawn.

The Wall Street Journal published a large advertising section Feb 6, 2010. It dealt with the gamut of IVF and technological powers of the medical field to intervene in conception and childbearing. Surrogacy advocates claim that with sufficient screening of surrogates, problems never arise. First, test the “never” claim by examining the data. Second, this is no moral justification for the program. Sufficient screening could find people willing to do all manner of dubious things.

Does or should the donor mother get to dictate food, drink, smoking and drugs?

Does the donor mother want to talk to the baby in the womb, to sing, to read to it? The “oven” would have to comply or deny or find an arbitrator to adjudicate.

The sperm portion of that fetus would be from another man, a subtle or not so subtle violation of the woman’s body. Did she “consent” to that implantation in the normal way consent is given and taken? Hardly. It’s hard to beat conjugal sex for clarity on this issue.

The sperm father may assert visitation rights over the “oven”. Fathers like to touch the skin of the mother, feel the kick. A homosexual father could thus intrude into the gestation. How does that settle? He may want to dictate food, drink, choice of music, be around various hours of the day and night.

IVF deprives the child of an origin in a self-abandoning sexual act. He or she arose in a self-conscious, willful manufacturing event.

The child has conflicting allegiances, partly to the donor mother and partly to the gestational mother who suffered nausea, months of discomfort, stretch marks, a weight loss regime after birth, post partum blues, risk and the trauma of delivery. It is not natural to allow these things only to immediately relinquish the subject of so much investment, the baby.

For a child, that’s a serious debt to owe a woman. But you are supposed to feel nothing toward her. If that woman feels nothing toward the child, won’t the child consider that odd and feel rejection, rejection by someone who naturally should feel a bond?

Choctaw Indians’ Casinos

Just some quick math here.

The Choctaws have two casinos, the Silver Star and the Golden Moon. The Sivler Star has 3,000 slot machines. Each one probably profits $150 per day, or $54,000 per year. 3,000 x $54,000 equals $162 million profit per year. Divide that by the 2,300 residents of the reservation for a per capita profit of $70,000, or $281,000 for a family of four.

The question is, since, the casinos started pumping all this money into the reservation, have the following indicators of personal fulfillment changed?

Educational attainment, suicide rate, rate of low childbirth weight babies, incidence of fetal alcohol syndrome, increased pride in kin and cultural history, family violence, drug use, life expectancy, incidence of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, employment, dependence on government programs, treatment for depression, net worth, out-of-wedlock child bearing, marriage rate, use of libraries.

Avatar: Cowboys and Indians

I have seen the movie Avatar. It didn’t take me long to realize this was not a story about bioethics or about biotechnology. It was a morality tale. Evil modernism destroys natural sacredness. The subjugation of native peoples by European invaders. Custer’s last stand.

Indigineous peoples are portrayed as serene, cultured, civilized, loving, and, above all, living in harmony with their earth, Pandora. Corporations and their employees , agents of capitalism and technology, come against them, destroying all that is beautiful. Mining is evil. Profit is evil. Capitalism and technology are evil.

I thought of hard-core environmentalists living in trees to save them from loggers. The Home Tree was a Tree of Life, a sacred center place. (Home, the deepest of longings, is the image used.)  Interconnectedness, a fourth-grade value, is hallowed. Modernity is killing the place; send those evil humans back to their dying planet. Earth is dying because of human nature, greed and consumerism.

I saw a strange likeness between the spelling of the name of the “god” of the Na’vi, Ewah,  and Yaweh of the Hebrews. I didn’t know what to make of this.

I thought of Wordsworth’s poem, Intimations of Immortality, in which he says we come “trailing clouds of glory from God who is our home.” (Lines 59-66 in the linked poem.) When a slain Na’vi, dies, they go back to God. That’s when I thought of Wordsworth.

I heard a phrase from Iraqi war parlance. The corporate raiders were trying to “win hearts and minds”, just as US strategy calls for. This is a subtle dig at the US military.

Director James Cameron

Director James Cameron. Image from wikimedia.

Such irony. Millions of people have seen this mass-produced spectacle. They sit in comforts provided only by large-scale corporate bounty, mass-produced upholstery, natural gas-heated theaters, in clothes produced by global trading, wearing their technological 3D glasses. Cameron spent $300 million producing it, enough to “save” a sizable chunk of the Amazonian rain forest. To add insult to injury, I saw the movie in a theater in Las Vegas, that most contrived of places, as far from encountering sacred nature as one can get.

Ah, but the mythology tugs.