States Visited

Saturday, February 21, 2009

And the hits just keep on coming...

I think this is fairly self explanatory.

If you've got nothing to hide you shouldn't mind the government watching your every move, right?

Your papers, please, Comrade.

Thanks for the heads up, David.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chasing the Impossible...

I haven't really thought this through but it popped into my head while eating lunch...

How much of our current mess can be blamed on our collective unwillingness to concede that there are some things we can't "make right"?

I'm wondering if our overriding goal of trying to make things like education, medical care, retirement income, etc., available to everyone is simply chasing the impossible.

I realize I am going to get called a selfish s.o.b. for even writing this, but maybe we just have to recognize that there really are cost-benefit relationships involved in these things.

For example, getting 100% of all children born in the U.S. to graduate with an acceptable level of academic accomplishment will always be impossible due to various forms of learning disabilities, etc., so to demand 100% success is foolish. Yet, suppose we can get a 70% graduation rate at an acceptable level of academic achievement for $5,000 per student; 80% at $15,000; 85% at $30,000; 90% at $50,000; and, 97% at $100,000. Clearly, $100,000 per pupil is economically impossible and impractical, but where do we draw the line? I think we would all agree that spending any amount of money required to achieve 100% success would be foolish, but what if the incremental cost of going from 70% to 80% means pushing taxes so high that it destroys the tax base? We all want to see every child receive that chance so we keep doing more and more and more, after all - its for the children - and who can argue with that?

The same thing applies to medical care. No one wants to see people not get treatments and medicines they need, but what if the cost of making it available to everyone means taxing the economy into shambles?

Perhaps the lesson we should be learning is that, while we may want to see all things for all people, it is economically impossible in the long run - it requires massive borrowing to do it. I know there are already objections forming because of the wealth and money in the country. I'm not saying there isn't money available, but what if the policies that are required to get that money kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

All tax policies have affects on the people being taxed and, importantly, the people receiving the benefits. There is constant pressure to increase the number of net benefit receivers and decrease the number of net tax payers and, as the number of net receivers increases, it puts ever more pressure on the remaining net payers.

For example, if you could stop working today and receive the same net benefits as working, would you continue to work? People aren't dumb. My dad figured out his retirement income would be the same as his after tax working income, so he retired. Why keep working? Just to pay taxes? At the same time, if your net after tax benefit at $200,000 of gross income is the same as it would be at $100,000 why do the extra $100,000 of work?

I have known the effects of these policies for years on the freedom of the citizens but maybe it runs deeper than that. If someone had pushed me on this two years ago I would have argued that while "soft" Socialism wasn't good for freedom, it was possible. We had almost all of Europe to use as an example. But the current economic crisis is global and certainly includes Europe. Perhaps those policies just won't work, in the long run, under any form of government...

Bah, I'm rambling...and a little incoherent, to boot...

Hey, Mr. President...

Another one worth a view...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ho-ly Crap...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Land of Confusion

The Disturbed version, because Genesis isn't pissed-off enough

I must have dreamed a thousand dreams
Been haunted by a million screams
But I can hear the marching feet
They're moving into the street

Now, did you read the news today?
They say the danger has gone away
But I can see the fire's still alight
They're burning into the night

There's too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there's not much love to go around
Can't you see this is a land of confusion?

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in

Oh, superman, where are you now?
When everything's gone wrong somehow?
The men of steel, these men of power
Are losing control by the hour

This is the time, this is the place
So we look for the future
But there's not much love to go around
Tell me why this is a land of confusion

This is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in

I remember long ago
When the sun was shining
And all the stars were bright all through the night
In the wake of this madness, as I held you tight
So long ago

I won't be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We're not just making promises
That we know we'll never keep

There's too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And there's not much love to go round
Can't you see this is a land of confusion?

Now, this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth fighting for

This is the world we live in
And these are the names we're given
Stand up and let's start showing
Just where our lives are going to

Random Thoughts...

Einstein is given credit for the following observation: "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe." I have no idea if he actually said it, but, given what I see and read these days one thing is absolutely clear - whoever said it was right on the money...

Perhaps all of this is inevitable. Humans seem to want some kind of government. As soon as government comes into being it begins amassing power and never stops. Eventually, the power of the government begins to crush the people. It may take centuries, but, eventually, the people revolt and overthrow the tyrannical government - only to replace it with another one and the process begins anew.

At what point is being a hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding citizen nothing more than letting the bastards abuse us? At what point do we realize that we are the only ones still playing by the rules?

It really sucks to realize we've failed. Not just as a country, but we've failed the entire world. What I've come to realize is that what the Founders gave us was not the miracle of the republican form of government (the type, not the party) and it certainly wasn't democracy. For a long time I thought what made America great was that we were a republic, with checks and balances, and segregated authority. I was wrong. What made America great was that we had a system of government founded upon Natural Rights with the only purpose of government to secure those right. A democracy founded on any other principles is nothing more than the tyranny of the majority and the primary reason why our misguided attempts to bring American Democracy to the Middle East have failed so miserably. Majority rule without the recognition and protection of Natural Rights does nothing but give legitimacy to the will of the majority as they destroy the minorities. We were the hope of the world, now we are the beggar - PLEASE loan us more money.

I have pretty much lost all interest in professional sports, with a small exception for golf. There is just too much cheating for my tastes. And, I'm probably fooling myself with golf. I think there are about as many honest professional athletes as honest politicians.

I think I have too much work to do to spend too much time throwing out random thoughts.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bloggin...while I'm still allowed.

I made mention a few weeks - maybe even days - ago that the Democrats are going full-speed ahead with bringing back the "Fairness Doctrine" to regulate what is said on radio and television - to limit free speech in direct violation of the First Amendment. I also said that it wouldn't be long until they made a move to regulate speech on the Internet. I wish I could say I'm right so often because I'm brilliant, but that would be a lie. I'm right so often because the a-holes in Washington are so easy to predict.

Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California and member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made the following statement yesterday:

"The FCC and state and local governments also have oversight over the Internet lines and the cable and telecom companies that operate them. We want to get alternative views on radio and TV, but we also want to makes sure those alternative views are read, heard and seen online, which is becoming increasingly video and audio driven. Thanks to the stimulus package, we've established that broadband networks -- the Internet -- are critical, national infrastructure. We think that gives us an opening to look at what runs over that critical infrastructure." (emphasis mine)

How about another prediction?

When this stupid and ill-advised "Stimulus" plan and its bastard bretheren, the "Bailouts," fail to deliver what is promised and even more drastic measures are being instituted, the Imperial Federal Government will make it a crime to publicly disagree with them or point out their stupidity. We will be suffering from a "crisis of confidence" and we will have "nothing to fear but fear itself" and anyone that undermines our collective confidence in the system will be a traitor to his country and guilty of sedition.

Crazy? Perhaps. But, hey, we've done it before.

The Sedition Act of 1798

The Sedition Act of 1918

The Soviets developed the Gulag for just such traitors.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Left, Right, Left, Right - as we march into oblivion

I came across two opinion pieces during my morning reading that I wanted to share.

First, to those on the Right that still hold onto the belief that the Republicans can save us, it is time to pull your head out of the sand. Anyone that wants to go back and read my blog posts over the last couple of years can see this process occurring in my head, the slow realization that I've been had. Hey, I know how hard it is to let go of something you believed in so strongly, but you must come to terms with it. The people you trusted and believed in lied to you and they've been doing it for years. I was wrong. Big time. I can't undo the past, but I can face the future with open eyes.

I've come to the conclusion that everyone in positions of power and influnce know that the game is up and all they are doing now is looting the coffers and vying for positions of power in the "new" government.

Second, even though I have "seen the light" when it comes to the Republican party, it was not a miracle that provided me with some sort of new understanding of exactly how a government should operate and what I want out of political leaders. I've spent the last two years trying to find the answer to those questions and I have made some significant progress, but it is difficult when you feel you can't trust anyone.

In the mean time, the thing I have been saying might happen, has happened and the pace at which we are marching into oblivion has quickened. So, what to do? As much as this country likes to engage in "party" politics, when it can find the energy to tear itself away from American Idol or football or whatever it is we do rather than pay attention to Washington, everyone is going to get slapped in the face with reality very soon. Perhaps you will take stock of the situation and come to a different conclusion that the one I have reached. Be that as it may, I think this guy has an interesting take and some good advice.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Goldman Sachs...

Apparently, it runs FAR deeper than I ever dreamed possible. And this is over a year old. I wonder how far it reaches now.

Uh, oh...

In the process of doing a little statistical digging I came across some information I felt I needed to share. President Obama spent much of his campaign talking about cutting taxes on the middle class and making the top 5% pay more of "their fair share." This is tried-and-true political rhetoric and I have made mention of it before. Even now, in the midst of the greatest financial collapse in eighty years it continues. I have, here and in other places, been trying to explain the dangers of the bailout. But, here is some concrete numbers that provide some scale of the problem:

In 2006, the last year for which data is available - and prior to the bailouts and stimulus - the total income (yes total income, not total taxes) of the top 9% (there is a natural break in the data at that point - it is tax returns with an AGI of $200,000+) of tax returns filed plus the total taxes paid by the bottom 90% of taxpayers is still less than total federal expenditures. Let that roll around in your head for a moment. Even taxing the top 9% at an effective tax rate of 100% still isn't enough. [Yes, there are other taxes, but the individual income taxes are by far the largest source of "revenue"]

This data is from before the bailouts, the stimulus and all the other Obama plans.*

Then, just yesterday, I came across some more jaw-dropping information. The federal government prepares its financial statements on the "Cash Basis." Generally, items do not appear on the financial statements until a cash transaction has occurred. Thus, debts and liabilities do not appear on the statements until an actual transaction has occurred, for example, bonds are issued. If you watch the news or read the paper the debt figure given, $5 trillion or $8 trillion or whatever it is, generally corresponds to the actual debt outstanding. This is important information but it doesn't tell the whole story for it doesn't include future obligations for which a cash transaction is yet to occur. All publicly traded companies prepare their financial statements using GAAP - Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. GAAP calls for all current and future obligations to be listed.

I have found two different groups that have determined the government debt on the GAAP basis and its a little, tiny bit higher:

$55 - $64 trillion, depending on the source. Sixty trillion dollars. Or roughly the equivalent to the GDP of the ENTIRE WORLD.

*I realize that my personal experience does not provide a random sample from which to extrapolate general claims, but my personal experience, combined with reading hundreds of posts on the Internet and hearing hundreds of interviews with people on television leads me to the conclusion that the vast majority of people in this country believe the top 10% (or 5% or 1%, it really doesn’t matter) do not pay “their fair share” (whatever that means) and if they did all our problems would be solved. In one form or another, and to greater and lesser degrees, this is the Democrat position. In addition, while the Democrats may want to cut or reduce given programs (defense spending, for example), cutting total government expenditures is not an option. For the last year in which data is available, the total combined adjusted gross income for ALL taxpayers was about $5.5 trillion. We are quickly approaching the point where it is going to require such a huge percent of all income to cover our obligations that it will begin eroding the economy. Shifting around the tax burden or even shifting around who makes the money will not solve this problem.

The Republicans, on the other hand, continue to push the ‘trickle down’ idea of tax cuts - that cutting taxes on the highest income earners and allowing them to invest that money will lead to higher total tax revenues because of the growth of the economy and middle class incomes. Empirically, there is some truth to that statement, but it assumes that government expenditures will remain constant or decrease over time and that inflation will remain very low or nonexistent, among other things – none of which exist in the real world. They, too, want to cut or eliminate certain programs (welfare programs, for instance), but cutting total expenditures is not an option. The connection to the 10% data here is actually more about what it implies about the bottom 90% - given that expenditures are not likely to decrease, the Republican plan to grow total revenues by ‘trickling down’ is ridiculous. The Republican deceit is, to me, more insidious because it is so much harder to detect. The ‘bracket creep’ of climbing incomes pushing people into higher and higher tax brackets, combined with the horrific effects of inflation, makes for a giant wealth transfer from the people (all of them) to the government and it punishes the poor and lower income people the most.

The bottom line is that the entire situation was unsustainable BEFORE the bailouts and the "stimulus" and neither party has any intention of doing what it will take to fix it. Now, we've just made it horribly worse. But politicians aren't stupid. Most of the effects are going to be through inflation and most people will never realize what is really happening. The people and the government will just blame "greedy" businesses for raising prices. Keep your eyes open - I'm willing to wager that we see some form of price controls, in an effort to stop "greedy" businesses from raising prices, before Obama leaves office.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Okay, for just a few minutes I am going to stop using my brain and "believe" that the government must save us with some form of "stimulus" package. Okay, now we need some government spending to 'prime the pump' and 'jump start the economy.' Wooohoooo, lets start printing and borrowing money! We can start with some roads or some power plants or a giant bureacracy to monitor and determine all of our medical treatments or...waaaait...what?

As part of this little sweetheart deal that is going to save the economy, turn lead into gold, water into wine, and bring peace to the middle east, there are some (more) asinine grow-government-power, destroy individual freedom provisions that clearly have nothing to do with stimulating the economy.

Many thanks to former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey for bringing this to our attention in her column at

The numbers in parentheses indicate page numbers in the bill.

"The bill’s health rules will affect 'every individual in the United States' (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors. But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and 'learn to operate less like solo practitioners.'"

I'm going to pause for just a minute while you let that little piece of good news bounce around your head - the government is going to decide what medical treatments are appropriate and cost effective. Oh, this is going to be good. That just fills me with confidence. The largest group of criminals and incompetents on the planet will now be in charge of my medical treatments. Maybe my doctor will just ignore them...

"Hospitals and doctors that are not 'meaningful users' of the new system will face penalties. 'Meaningful user' isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose 'more stringent measures of meaningful use over time' (511, 518, 540-541)."

Or not. If the doctors and hospitals think they know medicine better than some bureaucrat or politician and don't play along the government will show up with guns. I can hear it now, "The system is voluntary." Yeah, just like the IRS. Cooommmmpletely voluntary. It just keeps on getting better.

"In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make. The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept 'hopeless diagnoses' and 'forgo experimental treatments,' and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system."

Well, that makes perfect sense because researchers certainly know the results of the research BEFORE they conduct it. The last thing in the world that we need is some new medicine or technology to be developed that saves or improves the quality of lives. Good grief. What an idiot. Thank God the people that developed vaccines, anti-biodics, new surgery techniques and procedures, and the thousands of other advances in medicine over the years were smarter than this. If humans had always operated under this logic we would still have a life expectancy of about 40. But medical care would be cheaper! There is a certain level of stupidity that is almost breath-taking and this is a perfect example. Tom Daschle spent 8 years in the House and another 18 in the Senate and was, for a while, the Senate Majority Leader, and was on the verge of being appointed to Obama's cabinet. (As hard as this is to believe, he lied on his income tax returns - BIG TIME - and had to withdraw from nomination. Who would believe that we have a politician that passed tax law but felt it didn't apply to him? I digress...) This man, with the intellect of a lima bean, was in a position of power in Washington for 26 years.

"The Federal Council is modeled after a U.K. board discussed in Daschle’s book. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis."

So, let me see if I've got this straight - the healthier you are the quicker and more likely you are to receive treatment? That should certainly cut down on costs. "You, sir, with the pneumonia, get in the back of the line. We will get to you when we can. You two, with the splinter and the sunburn, come with me." This has all the makings of a Monty Python skit...

Behold the destructive power of politicians with limited intellectual capacity, the desire for power, and a willingness to spend other people's money on good intentions.

(emphasis mine)

Our moral desire to see all people receive quality medical care cannot and will not trump the laws of economics. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever. Medical care of the kind that we would call "high quality" is always going to be a limited resource - a resource that must, like all scarce resources, be allocated in some manner. In the end, that allocation can be done by the market, through prices, or by giving someone or some group the authority to dictate to everyone else. As Lord Acton pointed out long ago, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The rich and powerful will get better care under both systems.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I have no problem saying it - I flippin' told you...

House Financial Services Committee Chairman, and #1 supporter and defender of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, "said the compensation restrictions would apply to all financial institutions and might be extended to include all U.S. companies. The provision will be part of a broader package that would likely give the Federal Reserve the authority to monitor systemic risk in the economy and to shut down financial institutions that face too much exposure..."

Oh, and, "Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said last month that he might try to extend to all U.S. companies a restriction that prohibits bailout banks from taking a tax deduction of more than $500,000 in pay for each executive."

So now, in addition to dictating salaries for potentially EVERY COMPANY IN AMERICA we have Congress willing to discuss giving the Federal Reserve the authority to shut down a company it deems is taking on too much exposure.

We aren't talking about some nuts on the fringes of government. This is the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and the Treasury Secretary.

I told you. Government NEVER stops seeking power. Ever. And they are just warming up.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


While I certainly do not agree with everything in the articles, the fact that these two stories were on the front page of CNN is a strong indicator of just how prevalent these ideas have become. CNN, by no stretch of the imagination, can be tabbed as 'right-leaning' or libertarian.

'Cause when Foxnews says it, well, its like this here, see...

BTW - just for perspective:

The 'crimulus' package now being debated in Washington is coming in at around $900 billion. How much money is that?
If on the day Jesus was born you started spending $1,000,000 a day and never stopped, as of this morning you still wouldn't have spent $900 billion.

If you started spending $1,000,000 a day, every day, beginning on the day the Great Pyramid in Giza was completed you still wouldn't have matched the two stimulus packages combined.

Our generation is currently on the hook for about $50 trillion dollars. At $1,000,000 a day, it would take 137,000 years to spend that much money. According to wikipedia, anatomically modern humans appear in the fossil records about 130,000 years ago.

Clearly, the folks in Washington have it under control and know exactly what they are doing. Clearly.

Good P.R., Bad Unforeseen Consequences

So, it appears that the Great, Enlightened, Infallible, All-Knowing Rulers in Washington have decided they know how to handle executive pay better than the companies themselves and are instituting wage controls on the companies that receive bailout money.

So what, they should be held accountable, right?

Well, think of it like this - what would happen if laws were passed that set the limit on what baseball teams in the American League could pay their players at $500,000. How long do you think it would take for the really great, or even really good, players in the American League to start making their way to the National League? How much time would pass before the National League, which has no pay limit, attracts all the talent leaving only marginal players in the American League?

If you were a top-notch executive and your income just got capped by the idiots in Washington, would you stay at that job when someone from another firm called and offered you substantially more?

One of two things will happen as a result of this, either a) the companies will find a way to pay the executives (and take the risk that they will all be labeled as greedy pigs) or b) the better executives will leave and take better paying jobs without government interference. Brain drain.

Although...not too long ago Congress passed that little set of laws that allows the government to confiscate the property of people leaving the country. So, if you are a top-notch executive and you've had enough of the idiots in Washington and you get a huge offer to come run a bank or investment house in Dubai or Hong Kong or Singapore then you've got a tough decision. If you take the job and become an expatriate the government is going to seize a big chunk of your assets.

God, I'm so thankful we live in a free country. Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

And, as if giving the best executives every incentive in the world to leave the companies that may need them the most isn't enough, there is the added problem of what this means to New York and New York City. It seems that the state and the city reap HUGE amounts of income taxes from executive pay and executive bonuses and Washington's brilliant idea is taking millions in revenue away from local governments. So much for the notion that rich people don't pay taxes! Politically, I'm curious to see how the Democrats, who love to foster that very idea in the voting public, try to get around this. If rich people don't pay taxes how can the state and city governments be going broke without the revenue those people generate? As interesting as watching politicians make asses out of themselves can be, it bothers me because now New York state and New York City will both turn to Washington with their hands out asking for money.

Good intentions will not and cannot change the 'laws' of economics. Apparently, we are going to learn this the hard way.

Just jump. You can fly. I promise. Trust me, I'm from the government. We know what's best.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Leap of Faith

A thought occurred to me on my way in to work this morning that I think will explain what I have come to understand about Natural Law.

Natural Law is a property of a volitionally conscious being and, just like the other laws of nature, these laws do not change over time (I'm ignoring the fact that there is some indication that those laws did change in the first few millionths of a second after the big bang. As far as we have been able to determine, those laws have remained constant for the 15 billion or so years since). The law of gravity is, I think, a very good analogy.

Gravity had been around for a LONG time before Galileo (and others) realized it was some sort of predictable, natural phenomenon and began working to understand it. Decades passed and others took up his work. Then Newton came along and provided a quantum leap in human understanding of gravity. Hundreds of years came and went with no marked improvement upon Newton’s laws, and then Einstein came along and provided another giant leap forward. None of these men created gravity they have each simply come to provide a better understanding of it and how it works. Gravity does not evolve, we just find better and more complete mathematical “laws” to explain how it works.

The natural law of a volitionally conscious species does not change over time any more than gravity. We may gain a greater understanding of it, but we can't create it or destroy it. Just as with gravity, we can choose to ignore it and we can use other laws to attempt to circumvent it. For example, using the principles of lift, we can build an airplane to temporarily defy gravity - but the law is still there and it constantly ‘acts’ to prevent being ignored or circumvented. Eventually, that plane will come down.

We can conceive of a situation where one person (or a group of people) convinces another that he, in fact, can defy gravity. All he must do is believe it and jump from the cliff. Of course, we know the result - no matter how much you may believe you can defy gravity, you will plummet to the ground.

The same situation occurs with Natural Rights. We can be convinced they aren't there, we can be convinced to not exercise those rights, we can be forced with penalty of death or imprisonment or eternal damnation to ignore them, but the law never goes away. Eventually, the steps taken to defy natural law will lose the energy required to sustain the defiance.

To continue an analogy from my previous post, government – all forms of government – is effectively a giant black hole that sucks in everything around it. It consumes everything within its reach and the more it consumes the more powerful it becomes. The analogy continues here for, just as the laws of the universe break down in a black hole, the Natural Law of Man breaks down in government. Our government was originally so structurally sound that it built a country so strong it has taken well over two hundred years for the black hole destruction of government to destroy it, but even as brilliant as the Founders were, they could not design a government that does not exert this influence.

(I believe this ‘black hole’ theory of government is a corollary of Natural Law. This effect of government is what happens when a person or group of people become artificially isolated from the effects of Natural Law by the shield of a government. In short, that person or group of people are left free to act as they wish without fear of consequence. This cannot be avoided, even in a republic or a democracy for, even if the people change, the offices remain the same and are never subject to the consequences of the actions of the office holder.)

Just as the “punishment” of pain increases as the leap of faith in an attempt to defy gravity gets higher, the more convinced a society becomes that it can ignore Natural Law, the more painful the consequences. The Communists, through coercion, intimidation, and propaganda, convinced large numbers of people that they could fly and about 100 million died as a result. The Nazis – the democratically elected Nazis, I might add – convinced large numbers of people that they could fly (those they couldn’t convince received treatment similar to that used by the Communists) with the result being that about 20 million people died.

As I sit here this morning writing these words, forty miles to my southwest a small group of people are working very hard to defy that law, to convince us that we can fly. We have, almost from the beginning been marching up an enourmous cliff. We have climbed higher than any civilization in history. No one has ever taken a leap of faith from this height. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending upon your perspective) we are all in this together. If we jump, we jump as one – the government will make sure of it. The people and the government may offer me no choice but to jump off the cliff, but I will never, ever, believe I can fly. And, I packed a parachute.